Early Myths: Greek Myth Books for Kids

story, imagination, exploration

Creating the images for our Early Myths books

When we come to work on an image, the process involves a number of stages.

Step 1: When we worked on “Jason and the Golden Fleece”, I provided our artist with the following images before he worked on the first draft of the Phineus episode.

We focussed on two famous Greek vase paintings showing the Phineus tale. The first shows Jason standing behind the king, getting ready to hide for the arrival of the Harpies. On the right is one of the Boread twins, as he prepares the food. It is a trap, to lure the hungry Harpies, to chase them and hopefully free Phineus from his torment:

Attic red-figure column-krater from 460 B.C.E.
Jason, Phineus and one of the Boreads.

The second vase shows the arrival of the Harpies, and probably shows what regularly happened before the arrival of the Argonauts. The Harpies swoop down and steal Phineus food, as he helplessly waves his arms in an attempt to scare them away:

Attic red-figure hydra, from 470-460 B.C.E.
Phineus gestures at three Harpies steal his food.

Step 2: When it came to our images, we focussed on Jason and the Boreads’ role and how they hid behind the throne, ready to jump out at the Harpies.
Here is our draft image and the final version in our book. The image began with columns in the background but we changed this to reflect Phineus’ life outside in the sunshine. We also decided that Phineus may not have a nice table, but would have eaten off the rock:


Step 3: There are many examples in Greek art of the chase between the fleeing Harpies and the Boread twins. We wished to combine this with another strand, Jason’s healing of Phineus’ blindness. Here are two examples, the first showing Jason with his hands on Phineus’ eyes, and the second showing the Boreads pursuing the Harpies:
Both of these images are from early Greek art, both dating to around 757-550 B.C.E.

We decided to combine the two scenes into one and so showed Jason in the background while the pursuit took centre-stage:
In our image, Jason stands with Phineus and is about to place his hand on the king’s eyes. To the front, the Boreads chase the Harpies and are about to catch up with them!!

Overall we try to remain as faithful as we can to the original art. If no pictures exist, we try to piece together the scene from literature. But at all times our images remain closely aligned to the evidence from the earliest sources through to about 400 B.C.E.

Download your copy of
Jason and the Golden Fleece from the iBooks Store today.
Perseus, our first Early Myths book, is also available.