Willy Pogány’s Children of Odin


I ought to have waited until Wotan’s Day to post this one. The title may suggest a black metal album but these are illustrations by the versatile Willy Pogány for a retelling of Norse myths by Padraic Colum. Pogány illustrated several of Colum’s books, including retellings of Greek myths for which the illustrations resemble the figures found on Grecian ceramics. Children of Odin was published in 1920 with illustrations and page designs closer to Pogány’s drawings and paintings for Colum’s novel, The King of Ireland’s Son. The four colour plates shown here aren’t always present in the editions available online.


Iduna picking the Apples of Life for the Gods.

Jason and the Argonauts was one of my favourite films when I was 10 years old (and the story of the Golden Fleece happens to be the subject of a later Colum/Pogány volume) but I was never very interested in the written accounts of Greek mythology. The world of the Norse gods was darker and more mysterious, and I read Roger Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norsemen many times. I’m sure I would have done the same with Colum’s book, especially in this edition which contains over 40 illustrations. These days, any mention of Odin and Thor is blighted by association with the steroidal junk of “The Marvel Universe” and neopagan numbskullery. Feed them all to Fenrir and the Midgard Serpent, say I, and let the old gods rest in peace.




Odin at Mimir’s Well.




The Valkyrie.




Sigurd Rides Through the Wall of Fire.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Willy Pogány’s Rubáiyát
Maps and legends
Willy Pogány’s Lohengrin
Willy Pogány’s Parsifal

5 thoughts on “Willy Pogány’s Children of Odin”

  1. I agree with you about the current Marvelverse – dragon fodder – but you have to admit that Jack Kirby drew a pretty cool takeoff on the Norse world back in his Thor days, at least it appeared so to a clueless kid like me …

  2. I’m afraid I have a real blind spot when it comes to Kirby’s art. As with Bob Dylan, I know all the reasons why people rate the work–and I even read some of the Kirby Thors when I was 12 (a schoolfriend had a big comics collection)–but…it just doesn’t appeal to me.

    I said in an earlier post that the Marvel Thor seemed like a plastic Las Vegas version of Norse mythology compared to the darkness and horror of the sagas: “In Norse mythology, Naglfar or Naglfari (Old Norse “nail farer”) is a boat made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of the dead. During the events of Ragnarök, Naglfar is foretold to sail to Vígrídr, ferrying hordes of monsters that will do battle with the gods.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naglfar
    After describing this, Roger Lancelyn Green reminds his child readership to remember to closely pare the nails of the dead so the Naglfar will be long in building! This stuff made a deep impression.

  3. Yeah I was one of those kids whose mind was fried by Jack Kirby. But I went on to pursue the actual mythology and of course found it much more interesting than comic books. The comic books were fun enough. Kirby had a kind of lunatic joy. But the current movies are uniformly vapid and banal.

    If anyone reading this is interested in a way inot the world of the Norse mythology check out this site –
    Crawford is a specialist and a translator who has produced well regarded modern version of the Eddas and the Sagas. He has a terrific YouTube channel where he discusses all aspects of the traditions.

  4. Hi Stephen. Sorry you got caught by the auto-moderation again. I changed the settings after the last time but the spam filter doesn’t allow many adjustments.

    I never really got the appeal of superhero comics so it didn’t matter who was drawing them, the whole genre seemed to be nothing but endless fights and corny dialogue. At the age of 11 and 12 I was already reading adult science fiction (mostly Arthur C Clarke) whose seriousness made superhero comics seem stupid and frivolous in the extreme. The comics I did like were the odder stories you got in the UK titles, many of which were riffing on older forms of fiction from the Victorian era. Janus Stark the escapologist is a good example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janus_Stark

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