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December 18, 2007

Booksmart - This ‘House’ is finally built — in 3-D

A tale from ancient history, compiled from the writings of a Greek poet and her friend. But in “The House of the Muses,” you’ll read it through the modern media we know as the Graphic Novel. And the poet is Sappho, so it’s no surprise that passion is as omnipresent as the power politics of slave ownership and family intrigues.A careful look at the first “serial” shows two copyright dates — one is 1987. Vine Grove writer and illustrator Pam Harrison has waited 20 years for her vision to come into print. When she first imagined it, the journeys and trials of her protagonist, the Spartan slave nicknamed Dika, went into prose. And the story stayed in unrealized form  — along with a large number of accompanying sketches. Meantime, as the Vine Grove, Ky., writer/illustrator told LEO, the effort that it would take to bring the story into print went through “several false starts — job situation, gotta pay the bills for the family.” In the meantime, Harrison’s career included rewarding work as a graphic artist. An aspiring comics artist since age 12, she eventually learned 3-D graphics, which eventually became the basis for the illustrations in the published version of “House of the Muses.”Balancing an artistic goal with day-to-day living was frustrating, but Harrison felt assured to a degree because the work “was already written front to back.” “I had to try to find a vehicle for it,” she says, and so she made up her mind last year to bring the story out, illustrated with the help of DAZ Studio, one of the most respected software tools for human animation. Interestingly, the new, computerized methods of drawing in 3-D make for some changes for how a 1987-completed “House” might’ve looked, but the artist contends, “My style is the same. I had tons of sketches. This is how the main character looked — really hasn’t changed much.” How it was that this particular story — a saga of survival by hairbreadth and lesbian awakening — ignited two decades’ worth of Harrison’s determination to invest into the realization of this particular story, is a bit mystifying to her. “To be honest, I have no idea. I was taking Greek Studies at school (Western Kentucky), and I was working on Greek translations — translating New Testament Greek — when I tripped over this new material.” The books can be found and ordered at indyplanet.com, where they’re produced through POD (print on demand). They’re also available here on the racks at Great Escape (2433 Bardstown Road). As Harrison says, “I boldly presented it — sent them a hard copy — and they got back in touch and said that they receive tons of unsolicited material, so it really has to be good if they’re going to take it. Soon enough, they got back in touch — and did take it.”The artist decided on a “mature content” notice on the cover. However, anyone who’s ever opened up a volume of hentai at a comics store will realize that “House of the Muses” is more in line with today’s mainstream comics market. Serial No. 2 will be out in February. The miniseries is scheduled to be released at regular intervals, concluding with No. 6 on sale in February 2009. Contact the writer at tlx@aol.com