As we grind relentlessly toward June 1 and the second Amiculus Kickstarter, I'd like to take a moment to shine a spotlight on another worthy project I've come across. As a lover of ancient history and all things relating to Rome, I was delighted to be introduced to this project by artist and filmmaker Roger Kupelian, East of Byzantium. This exciting graphic novel series and soon-to-be high-end documentary chronicles the struggles of the ancient kingdom of Armenia, caught in a vicious, centuries-long tug-of-war between the Roman/Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire.
Volume I of the series, War Gods, portrays Armenia beset from within and without. The Sassanid Persians are determined to bring them to heel, and part of the book covers the kingdom's long war of resistance against them. Meanwhile, it is also locked in civil war, as the pagan followers of the old gods vie with the upstart Christian faction for the soul of the nation. All I will say is this: while Armenia was the first nation on earth to convert to Christianity (something I learned from this series!), the conversion brought with it no peace.
This is made painfully clear in Volume II, Warrior Saints. A hundred and fifty years have passed, and Armenia is a kingdom no more, torn apart between Rome and Persia. In this book, the Persian shah desires to forcibly convert the Christian Armenians under his rule to Zoroastrianism, and a new and bloody war of resistance ensues.
Kupelian demonstrates the raw, epic history of the Armenians in beautifully-rendered, photo-realistic art that captures an ancient land trapped in a crucible of war yet never quite broken by it. I highly recommend checking it out, and I personally am very much looking forward to the release of the documentary.
Travis Horseman is a writer, actor, and an incurable graphic novel junkie. His love of comic books, theater and classical history have largely driven the course of his life, and he is doing his darnedest to unite them in Amiculus: A Secret History.