Greek Street #1
In London there’s a street running through the Soho district called
Greek Street. Originally dubbed ‘Hogs Lane’, the thoroughfare dates
back to the late 17th century and has been depicted in a variety of
forms including an etching by William Hogarth to novelist Charles
Dickens’ Tale Of Two Cities. But for comics writer Peter Milligan, the road runs further back – in time – back to ancient Greek times.
In the forthcoming series Greek Street
from DC Vertigo, Milligan looks at the timeless stories of classic
Greek myth through the lens of a modern era crime story. The doomed King Oedipus becomes the homeless Eddie who grew up without a mother,
only meeting her when he’s an adult. Stories such as these, catapulted
into the modern streets of London to see how they’ll land – how they’ll
thrive, and how they’ll change.
Milligan has been a key player in DC’s Vertigo imprint with work on Shade, The Changing Man and Human Target
which is being adapted into a fall 2009 television series. In addition
to this new series, Milligan is also scripting Vertigo’s
longest-running title Hellblazer, but Greek Street is a whole new zip code.
Newsarama: After a bit of break from comics a couple years back, it seems you’ve jumped back into the thick of it with Hellblazer, some work over at Marvel, and now this new series Greek Street. To what would you explain your resurgence?
Peter Milligan:What it isn’t is some kind of planned assault on
the world of comic books. It’s really just worked out this way. Usually
it’s story and editor led. That is, if there is a story I’m keen on
writing, or an editor I’m keen on working with, things happen. Recently
there have been a number of things I’ve wanted to write and a number of
really good editors I want to work with.
NRAMA: Good for you, and good for us.
The premise to Greek Street
seems pretty straight forward – classic Greek dramas retold in
modern-day London. How would you describe the series and what fans can
PM: The premise might be straight forward enough. The reality of
the comic is anything but. Greek Street is a very strange beast. I
think of it as The Long Good Friday meets Agamemnon. A way of using
those fantastically rich stories from Greek Tragedy to take a look at
our world, and to explore some of the things I think about this world.
I hope readers aren’t put off, thinking that this is somehow going to
be dry or demand that they are well versed in Greek literature. The
book is very sexy. IT has beautiful girls, beautiful boys, guns,
tension, and the supernatural. The aim, or trick, is to forge something
new. Something that refers to and echoes Greek Tragedy but that is also
NRAMA: What drew you to retelling these greek legends?
PM: I’ve always been interested in the Greek Tragedies. A few years back a re-read a translation of the The Oresteia
and that stayed with me, and slowly this idea of using some of those
old legends and plays to tell a new story about modern urban life began
NRAMA: Can you remember when you first became aware and interested in greek dramas?
PM: At school, I suppose. I mean I was aware of ancient greek
culture from an early age, trips to the British Museum, the Elgin
marbles, those fantastic vase paintings.
NRAMA: Getting into the book itself, there’s a lot of greek
mythological characters to pull from – but who’s standing out as the
main characters as the series starts?
PM: Our main character is a young guy called Eddie who at the
age of 18 has left the childrens’ home. He’s an orphan in search of his
mother. Another important character is a girl named Sandy. She's
disturbed, prone to visions, and lives with her aristocratic parents,
who have their own tragic problems.
NRAMA: Eddie = Oedipus, perhaps?
Vertigo was kind enough to send me advance copies of the first two
issues, and what struck me most about these stories is that even though
these are storylines over 1600 years old – the stories can, and do,
happen in today’s world. Did you think of that – the idea that humans
haven’t changed much?
PM: The idea that what we might call ‘human progress’ is a myth is one of the central conceits of Greek Street.
Those ancient stories speak to us, I think, because fundamentally we
have not changed or progressed that much. Our gods might be different,
or at least go under different names. Our technology has obviously
advanced. But when it comes to a lot of the really important human
stuff, I wonder if we ever really progress.
Greek Street #1 hits shops in July.