Creative Families 
Few artistic creations spring fully formed out of their creator’s heads, like Athena, with no previous influences. Often, a long chain of inspiration and cultural heritage influences the works that we watch, see, or read. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what influences something you like, and not just because it helps you understand it. Exploring the artistic genealogy of a work that you like is a great way to find new things to be a fan of. Here are just a few artistic family trees – you can make one for your favorite creative work, too - click here!

Once you have, you can even work your way up the tree, and you’ll never run out of entertainment.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians Family

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians books represent the latest in a long line – stretching back over 2500 years – of adaptations of Greek Mythology. Although Riordan wasn’t around to hear the Greek Myths told, himself, he certainly read adaptations, going back to Greek and Roman sources.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. A direct adaptation is a relatively faithful re-telling of another work. A book being remade as a movie is an example of a direct adaptation: the movie might leave some things out, or make some changes, but it will pretty much follow the original plot. An example of a direct adaptation is Grant Morrison’s 18 Days series by Graphic India. (Published on YouTube.) 18 Days is a retelling of the Mahabharata – one of the epic myth cycles of Hinduism, along with the Ramayana. Although both Percy Jackson and 18 Days are based on a source, the Percy Jackson series isn’t a straight re-telling of the Greek myths, but rather uses them as an artistic inspiration. 18 Days, however, follows the same plot as the Mahabharata, even though it chooses to tell the story in a different style (kind of like a sci-fi shadow puppet show).

You can do this with authors, artists, or directors, as well as books or movies! If you went to see a horror movie this Halloween season, it could probably trace its roots back to Charlotte Brontë or Edgar Allan Poe.

A Twilight Taxonomy of Horror Authors – Stephenie Meyer

Sometimes, the real roots of a work can be a surprise. A great example, and one worth looking at more closely, is the manga and anime series DragonBall and its sequel DragonBall Z.

DragonBall Family

DragonBall shows its Superman roots in Goku’s backstory: super-powered alien baby falls to Earth and is raised by a sweet farm couple. Journey to the West is a classic Chinese novel from the 1500s about the Monkey King escorting a monk to India to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures, and bring them back to China. In his adventures, the Monkey King steals a magic staff that can shrink or extend to any size from the King of Dragons. He can also fly on clouds. If you’ve read or watched any DragonBall, some of this might sound familiar. While the plot kicks off as Superman, the visuals and themes are all Journey to the West – including the emphasis on fight scenes. This is exactly why Goku has a tail: he’s the Monkey King.

This, ultimately, is what tracing the family tree of a favorite work can get you. If you ever wanted to read “DragonBall Z the Novel” now you know that there is one, in a sense. Dig back into the genealogy of the things you love, and you’ll find even more to add to your favorites list.

-Katherine, Teen Services, Highlands/Shelby Park Library


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