Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ART CONTEST – Adult Winners, Midsummer 2015

We received an amazing array of international entries in the adult division of this year's Midsummer Art Contest. Wonderful works were submitted from Canada, Czech Republic, England, Sweden and the United States. All were at a very high level, and we had a very difficult time ranking the many entries received.

I'd like to thank my fellow judges Simon Fraser (comics artist for Doctor Who and Judge Dredd) and Merrill Kaplan (Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at Ohio State University) for the time they spent considering the entries and for their thoughtful comments on the works created by these talenting young people. This contest would not be possible without their participation.

Congratulations to our winner! The assignment was to create a piece that related to an excerpt from the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál ("Sayings of Sigrdrifa") from the Poetic Edda, the great collection of mythological and heroic poems from medieval Iceland.

At this point in the poem, the dragonslayer Sigurð has just woken the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa (who may or may not be the heroine Brynhild under another name). She had been mystically put to sleep by the god Odin as punishment for vanquishing his chosen hero in battle.

As she wakes, the Valkyrie sings a beautiful song of celebration. In the classic 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows, she sings:

Hail, day! Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

Hail to the gods! Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.

Congratulations to the five featured artists! These were our favorites in a very competitive division. We hope to see more art from all of these artists in the Midwinter Art Contest later this year.

Note: You can click on the art to see larger versions.

FIRST PLACE
Eric Matzner
Age 20
Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada

Eric writes, "I chose to illustrate the mood that the excerpt conveyed to me. When I read this passage, I imagined an invigorated Valkyrie jumping up to greet the sun after a lengthy slumber. To keep in touch with the Norse and midsummer themes, the painting is located atop a rocky knoll in the high north, the line of suns to show the progression of the arctic sun on the longest day of the year."

At age nineteen, Eric won first place in the Midsummer 2014 contest. At age twenty, he now wins first place in the adult division. Like last year, Eric was voted first by unanimous agreement of all three judges. I love Eric's work, and I think this painting has a mystical feeling that evokes the dreamlike landscapes of Salvador Dalí. It's fantastic in every sense of the word.

Simon says, "This feels truly Norse. Maybe it's the use of color. It also has a mythic, iconic quality that feels very right to me."

Merrill comments, "The midsummer sun dipping low and the lovely curve of lakes echoing its arc: it’s such a strong composition. The color scheme, too, reverses the yellow sun on blue in the blue lakes on a golden plain. The visual harmony of binary elements captures exactly the excerpt Karl presented to us. Any viewer sees a joyful greeting of night and day and the bountiful earth, even one who’d never read the poem."

First Place: Eric Matzner

SECOND PLACE (TIE)
Levi Simpson
Age 34
Sedro-Woolley, Washington, USA

Levi calls this piece Sigrdrífa Sings in Summer. He writes, "I settled on a simple idea. I wanted to capture a moment of Sigrdrífa singing her poem, happy to be awake and looking up at a sun-filled summer sky. I tried to illustrate this image with the idea that perhaps it was discovered during an archaeological dig, painted on a wall and well-preserved, with light just hitting it for the first time in a long time."

Levi won first place in the Midwinter 2014 contest with a strikingly beautiful image of Frau Holle and the Yule Goat. His entry this time around is equally impressive and again demonstrates his unique artistic vision.

Simon comments, "This has a bold, graphic quality that immediately makes it stand out. The drawing is also very good."

Merrill writes, "It’s the strong graphic quality of this piece that captures me visually. Thematically, the bird motif on the helmet echoes the feathers in the foreground. Are they part of a cloak? A physical wing? The ambiguity is appropriate to the material, as Valkyries overlap with shape-changing swan maidens, and shape-changing is often figured as the donning and doffing of a hamr or skin/cloak. But instead of a swan, I see a bird of prey, which is appropriate to Sigrdrífa’s associations with battle. The conceit that we’re seeing an ancient painting, newly brought to light, is lovely. Both the painting and its subject are seeing the sun for the first time in many ages; the idea is really quite moving."

Second Place (Tie): Levi Simpson

SECOND PLACE (TIE)
Emma Häthén
Age 26
Karlshamn, Sweden

Emma writes, "My piece is an illustration of Brynhild/Sigrdrífa waking up from her magical sleep. I wanted to focus on the human act of waking and her joy. The glow and the sign is the touch of magic and power within her that reveals her as a Valkyrie."

I simply love this piece. Emma really captures a young woman's joy in the simple act of waking up from a long sleep, and she simultaneously imbues the moment with spiritual power. The depth of emotion and meaning is striking, as is Emma's talent as an artist.

Simon comments, "This is the most engaging and human of all of the images."

Merrill writes,
Emma does catch the spontaneous human moment. Sigurð is not really part of Sigrdrífa’s experience here. Maybe she’ll notice him in a second, but right now it’s all about her feeling life again. She’s unselfconscious and invigorated, feeling her body from the inside before she knows someone is looking at her and perhaps evaluating whether or not she’s attractive to him. The viewer, too, feels what she feels instead of assessing her female charms. Western art history doesn’t give us so many moments like that. 
Meanwhile, the sign hovers midway between representation (dragon? serpent?) and symbolic meaning (power!). It’s behind her, like her life as a valkyrie, but it illuminates her still. Emma’s style reminds me a little of Jeff Smith’s Bone and the affection with which he renders Thorn.
Second Place (Tie): Emma Häthén

THIRD PLACE
Genevieve Terry
Age 33
Fallbrook, California, USA

Genevieve's piece is titled Hail the Day. She writes,
As someone with synesthesia (I "see" emotions, sounds as shapes, colors, textures, and movements in my mind's eye), the art I typically create tends to focus on representations of my mental "pictures" of emotional feelings and the senses. When I read the poem, especially Sigrdrífa's song, I saw an image in my mind that was one of hope and overcoming "the dark" (i.e., death, endings, static states). I associated this with reds/yellow/oranges, and blue/purple/black, and with sweeping wave-like movements (light) and spiky, pitted textures (darkness). To translate the movement and textures of the picture in my head into a visual medium, I used plaster on the canvas. I then used acrylic paint for the colors.

As midsummer is the longest day of the year, it is a day that is one to focus on and celebrate passion, growth, hope for the future, and action. This attitude and message is an important part of Sigrdrífa's song, and it made a picture in my mind of the brightness overcoming the darkness. Sigrdrífa emerges from the cave (darkness) into the sun (light); not cursing the darkness, but rather recognizing that both are different yet worthy of praise as parts of the great cycle of life, and that right now, it is time for life and progress. Without the darkness (death, "cave") we would take the sun (progress, "day"/sun) for granted.
Even when viewed on a computer screen, Genevieve's painting has a physical depth that draws the viewer into its world. What a wonderful work!

Simon writes, "I appreciate the painterly use of texture."

Merrill comments, "I love a good impasto! The obvious physical texture of this piece makes me wish I could see it in person. Together with the vibrant colors, Genevieve really communicates her synæsthetic experience to viewers who don’t experience the world as richly. That purple makes me want to go buy more art supplies."


Thank you to all the kids, teens and adults who entered this summer. We really enjoyed everyone's work. See you in November for the Midwinter Art Contest!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ART CONTEST – Teen Winners, Midsummer 2015

What happened to the teenagers this summer? The teen division of this year's Midsummer Art Contest did not have the depth and quality of entries that it has had in past midsummer and midwinter competitions. I almost didn't publish a post of teen winners at all, but one piece was so strong in the eyes of all three judges that we had to feature it. We salute Nordhild for her fantastic work, and we hope that her excellence will serve as a challenge to other teen artists around the world to put down their iPhones and create some quality art.

I'd like to thank my fellow judges Simon Fraser (comics artist for Doctor Who and Judge Dredd) and Merrill Kaplan (Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at Ohio State University) for the time they spent considering the entries and for their thoughtful comments on the works created by these talenting young people. This contest would not be possible without their participation.

Congratulations to our winner! The assignment was to create a piece that related to an excerpt from the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál ("Sayings of Sigrdrifa") from the Poetic Edda, the great collection of mythological and heroic poems from medieval Iceland.

At this point in the poem, the dragonslayer Sigurð has just woken the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa (who may or may not be the heroine Brynhild under another name). She had been mystically put to sleep by the god Odin as punishment for vanquishing his chosen hero in battle.

As she wakes, the Valkyrie sings a beautiful song of celebration. In the classic 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows, she sings:

Hail, day! Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

Hail to the gods! Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.

Nordhild shows how emotional and intellectual engagement with Norse mythology can lead to the creation of powerful works of art. I hope to see more teen entries at this level of quality in the Midwinter 2015 contest!

Note: You can click on the art to see a larger version.

FIRST PLACE
Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler
Age 16
Lemnhult, Sweden

Nordhild wrote this about her entry:
I chose to paint the emotion of the song and scene. I've known this story since I was a little girl, and the feeling I always had when Sigrdrífa/Brynhild awakens was that of joy.

I think that even though she was asleep, she still felt the long passing of time. So, when Sigurð finally comes for her, she not only wakes up but comes back to life. She greets the day and the night because she is so happy to be alive again that she will face whatever challenges life may have to offer.

Since she has been sleeping alone for so long, I picture it as if the wilderness has begun to creep back in. Vines grow over her body and her bed is made of moss. When she awakens, she regains her strength and tears herself free from her bonds. I wanted my painting to show the joy of life.
Nordhild won second place in both the Midwinter 2013 and Midsummer 2014 art contests. Her art always shows a deep connection to the spirit of the mythology. I look forward to seeing more of her wonderful work in the future!

Simon writes, "This is actually really good! Beautifully drawn and conceived. This might be my favorite piece of all of them [in the three age divisions]. To be this good at sixteen is impressive."

Merrill says, "Flame-haired Sigrdrífa! Sometimes one tires of blonde valkyries, which seem to be the modern standard. In the nineteenth century, Brynhild often got dark hair to contrast with blonde Guðrún, and to mark her as dark and thus evil. Ugh. (Disclosure: Yes, I am dark haired.) This red is original, full of energy, and a great echo of the flames. I like the idea of nature having crept into the tower while she slept. It’s a great way to signify the passage of time without mixing in ideas of decay. Who knows? Maybe the deep canyon before her was not so deep when she’d first lain down. The shape of it suggests that it was cut by water rather than glaciers."

First Place: Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler

Adult winners will be announced tomorrow!

Monday, June 22, 2015

ART CONTEST – Kid Winners, Midsummer 2015

The kids' division of this year's Midsummer Art Contest had some really wonderful entries. It was very difficult for us to rank such great work!

I'd like to thank my fellow judges Simon Fraser (comics artist for Doctor Who and Judge Dredd) and Merrill Kaplan (Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at Ohio State University) for the time they spent considering the entries and for their thoughtful comments on the works created by these talenting young people. This contest would not be possible without their participation.

Congratulations to our four winners! The assignment was to create a piece that related to an excerpt from the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál ("Sayings of Sigrdrifa") from the Poetic Edda, the great collection of mythological and heroic poems from medieval Iceland.

At this point in the poem, the dragonslayer Sigurð has just woken the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa (who may or may not be the heroine Brynhild under another name). She had been mystically put to sleep by the god Odin as punishment for vanquishing his chosen hero in battle.

As she wakes, the Valkyrie sings a beautiful song of celebration. In the classic 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows, she sings:

Hail, day! Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

Hail to the gods! Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.

These four young artists created wonderfully imaginative works of art inspired by this scene. I hope that they will all continue exploring Norse mythology and developing their artistic skills!

Note: You can click on the art to see larger versions.

FIRST PLACE
Paul Jules Butler
Age 6
Schweich, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Paul writes, "Sigrdrífa is cooler than a superhero, because she cares for real heroes. Is the sun behind her too bright for morning?"

What a powerful image! I'm particularly impressed by the maturity of Paul's design concept.

Merrill says, "Sigrdrífa is indeed cooler than a superhero, and that red sunburst is fantastic. Even if the red is 'too bright for morning,' the Valkyrie’s wings are the colors of clouds at sunrise: pink and yellow. Her body is made of strong blues and blacks, which keeps her from seeming like a shadow or mere silhouette. There’s real substance and power to her. The dynamism of the colors really makes this piece for me."

Simon adds, "Graphically and technically, this was the strongest of the group."

First Place: Paul Jules Butler

SECOND PLACE
London Hatrak
Age 10
Belleville, New Jersey, USA

London writes, "This shows Sigrdrífa being reborn. In her song, she asks the gods and goddesses to watch over her, since her Valkyrie life is gone, and she is now only a mortal."

London tied for third place in the Midsummer 2014 contest and now moves up to second place. This is a fantastic work that really captures the spirit of Sigrdrífa's transformation. Wonderful!

Simon says, "I like the duality idea, and it's well drawn."

Merrill writes, "The contrast between grays and color to mark the distinction between death and life is very effective, the more so because neither half of the composition is allowed to dominate visually. Instead of color, the grey side has line: London put care into the ornament of both helmet and byrnie with a repeating motif. I also like the contrast between short and long, loose hair. Loose hair would have marked a medieval Norse woman as young and unmarried, appropriate for a newly-reborn Sigrdrífa about to swear herself to Sigurð. This drawing gives us true narrative, before and after, and not just a moment."

Second Place: London Hatrak

THIRD PLACE
Leo P.
Age 4
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Paraphrased by Leo's mom: "Sigurð is cutting off the armor of Sigrdrífa as she's asleep on the hill. His armor and sword are gold, but she is green because she eats greens because she is a warrior. There is an oak tree on the left, and the helpful nuthatches are watching in the sky – two green, four blue, one brown. Under the hill is 'a mummy with bright yellow skin' buried with the dragon's gold coins. Leo really likes mummies right now!"

I love the depth and richness of Leo's imagination. What a thinker this one is!

Merrill had a lot to say about Leo's entry:
I love how many narrative elements are present in this composition: the cutting of the byrnie, the tree, the nuthatches, the dragon’s gold. I’m reminded of the runic inscription at Ramsund, Sweden, where several moments in Sigurð’s story are present at one time. This drawing also includes three layers of the cosmos: the sky full of birds and sun, the surface of the earth inhabited by people, and a kind of underworld or realm of the dead.
Leo’s mom seems surprised by the mummy, but I think it makes excellent mythological sense. The gold in the Burgundian cycle is tainted by death from the very beginning, when it is used to pay compensation for a slaying. Death follows it everywhere, and ultimately it is lost from the realm of the living when it sinks into the Rhine. In Norse myth, gold seems to me inherently of the realm of the dead. Depicting it here buried under a mound, accompanied by a mummy, is perfect!
Simon writes, "So many good ideas and graphically strong, despite only being four years old. I feel that Leo's mother should get a lot of credit for transcribing the mythos, too."

Third Place: Leo P.

RUNNER-UP
Rune Hatrak
Age 8
Belleville, New Jersey, USA

Rune writes, "Fire ends life and starts life. Sigurð and Sigrdrífa are surrounded by fire that ends their old lives and starts their new lives. The picture shows the happiness in Sigrdrífa 's song, and she asks the gods to watch over her new life on earth."

This is such a strong piece, we had to include it with the other three winners. Excellent work!

Simon writes, "I really like this one. They both look so happy, and it's very clear what's going on."

Merrill says, "The shape of the flame is a great compositional element for this scene. The cut paper overlaid on black catches the marked-off space in which this narrative moment takes place. In Sigrdrífumál, Sigurð and Sigrdrífa meet in a tower that resembles a flame from a distance; in other versions of the Sigurð-Valkyrie encounter, there is a wall of flame. In every case, the location is high up and separated from the usual world – appropriate, since the things that take place there are anything but usual."

Runner-Up: Rune Hatrak

Teen winners will be announced tomorrow!

Friday, May 29, 2015

HEATHENS IN THE MILITARY: CALL TO ACTION

For six years, the Open Halls Project Working Group has worked for the addition of Ásatrú and Heathen to the U.S. Army's religious preference list as a faith option for soldiers.

For six years, Heathen soldiers have accommodated every administrative obstacle that has stood between them and recognition of their religious tradition.

Today, soldiers who follow the Old Way of Odin, Thor, Freya and the other Germanic gods and goddesses are still denied basic religious rights available to faiths that are recognized by the Army.

Today, Heathen soldiers ask you to stand with them.

The Open Halls Project Working Group hereby issues the following call to action to everyone who believes that religious freedom applies to all religious traditions.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

For more on the religion of Ásatrú and Heathenry, read

For more on Heathens around the world, read

For more on the Army's stonewalling of Heathen soldiers, read

For the successful campaign for recognition in the Air Force, read

THE PROBLEM

For service members belonging to non-traditional faiths within the predominantly Christian environment of the U.S. Army, it can be challenging to exercise simple freedoms that other faiths may take for granted.

These freedoms include the right to:

• have time off for attending worship
• hold religious services in one's own tradition
• keep items or books connected with one's faith
• when in large enough numbers, have a dedicated place of worship

These are freedoms enjoyed, where possible, by every recognized faith in the military – but not for followers of Heathenry.

This is why the issue of recognition of Heathenry within the various branches of the military is so important. Contrary to popular belief, military members do not give up their constitutional rights upon signing up. Service men and women do not forfeit their First Amendment rights. This leaves the problem that some of those who fight for our nation are being denied rights guaranteed by the Constitution that they swore to protect.

Additional benefits of having Heathen added to the Army's religious preference list include:

• ease of finding and connecting with other Heathens on post
• taking another step towards appointment of Heathen chaplains
• less need to prove legitimate reason for religious accommodation (including leave)
• less hassle regarding religious issues for family members of deceased soldiers

Since 2009, we have been working on getting the Army to add Ásatrú and Heathen to the list of religious preferences available for a soldier's Enlisted Record Brief / Officers Record Brief (ERB/ORB). In July 2014, the Air Force led the way forward by successfully adding the preferences Ásatrú and Heathen to the list of religions recognized by the Air Force.

Over the years, we were led to believe that we were near completion of this task for Army soldiers multiple times. We have been faced with constant challenges and years' worth of delays. In January of this year, we were led to believe that the Army would imminently approve the religious preferences.

However, after initially being informed by the relevant member of the Chaplaincy Corps that our request had gone through and that we were only waiting on the appropriate code for adding those preferences to a soldier’s record, the Chaplaincy backpedaled.

This left the campaign (and the soldiers represented) in a bureaucratic limbo.

We at the Open Halls Project Working Group find the current situation unacceptable.

The process to add our religious preference has taken far, far too long. This needs to be fixed, now.

CALL TO ACTION

Please send an email to any or all of the offices listed below, asking that Heathenry be added to the Army's religious preferences list immediately. Scroll down for email addresses and a sample message.

Please share this call to action. Send this information to any and all friends, family and colleagues who support equal rights for all religious groups.

Please let us know if you receive anything other than a respectful reply by contacting us at HeathenOpenHalls@gmail.com

EMAIL ADDRESSES

Armed Forces Chaplains Board (Department of Defense)
osd.afcb5120@mail.mil

Army Human Resources Command
askhrc.army@us.army.mil

Army Public Affairs Officer
usarmy.pentagon.hqda-dcs-g-1.mbx.public-affairs-office@mail.mil

Chief of Army Chaplains
usarmy.pentagon.hqda-occh.mbx.chief-of-chaplains@mail.mil

SAMPLE EMAIL MESSAGE

Feel free to use this sample email message. Simply select the text below, copy it, then paste it into the body of your email.

Don't forget to add your name at the bottom of your email message.

If you choose to write your own message, please be firm but respectful.

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

I email today to ask you to expedite the request to add Heathen to U.S. Army's official list of religious preferences available for a soldier's Enlisted Record Brief / Officers Record Brief (ERB/ORB). This request has been in process in one form or another for 6 years. That is an inordinate amount of time.

I am aware that the Department of Defense has a working group designated to make this process easier in the future. However, I truly believe that Heathen soldiers should not have to wait several more years for a bureaucratic system to be put in place before their faith tradition is recognized.

Heathen soldiers have honorably served in the U.S. military for many years, and many have left the service without ever having their faith recognized. They have faced discrimination and undue hardship in practicing their religious tradition.

This addition of this religious preference should be a simple process. Heathen soldiers have already jumped over every administrative hurdle placed before them.

Please add Heathen immediately to the religious preference list.

With respect,

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ART CONTEST – Midsummer 2015

Midsummer Eve Bonfire by Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup

CONTEST

The theme for The Norse Mythology Blog's fifth art contest is a bit different. Be sure to carefully read the entire Contest Theme section so that you understand the assignment.

During the summer solstice on June 21, those of us in the northern hemisphere will experience the longest day and shortest night of the year. This may seem early in the season, but it’s really the middle. From this point on, days will get shorter as we slowly move back towards winter.

Throughout Northern Europe, there are local traditions that celebrate midsummer. Some of these practices preserve very old rituals. Your original piece of visual art should capture the midsummer spirit of Norse mythology.

I strongly suggest doing some reading and research on the Norse myths before you begin your artwork. What characters and concepts can you discover? Can you think of a way to relate them to the contest theme?

If you need some ideas about Norse mythology, browse The Norse Mythology Blog Archive. You can also check out the winners of the Midsummer 2014 Art Contest in the three categories: kid, teen and adult. Most importantly – be creative!

CONTEST THEME

Your artwork entry must somehow relate to this excerpt from the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál ("Sayings of Sigrdrifa") from the Poetic Edda, the great collection of mythological and heroic poems from medieval Iceland.

Sigurð discovers the Valkyrie – Willy Pogany (1920)
At this point in the poem, the dragonslayer Sigurð has just woken the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa (who may or may not be the heroine Brynhild under another name). She had been mystically put to sleep by the god Odin as punishment for vanquishing his chosen hero in battle.

As she wakes, the Valkyrie sings a beautiful song of celebration. In the classic 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows, she sings:

Hail, day! Hail, sons of day!
And night and her daughter now!
Look on us here with loving eyes,
That waiting we victory win.

Hail to the gods! Ye goddesses, hail,
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.

You can do any of these things:

1. Illustrate the scene of Sigurð and Sigrdrífa
2. Illustrate the words of the song sung by Sigrdrífa
3. Illustrate the feeling of the scene
4. Illustrate the feeling of the song
5. Create something inspired by the scene
6. Create something inspired by the song
7. Draw something connecting the song to other Norse myth characters or concepts

You must do this one thing:

Include an explanation with your entry explaining how your work relates to the poem.

Beware!

In this contest, Marvel Comics characters are NOT considered part of Norse mythology. Art with imagery from comic books or movies will NOT be accepted. Do some reading and research on Norse myth, then base your imagery on what you learn!

Want to learn more about Sigurð and Sigrdrífa?

Read the entire poem in English by clicking here.

* Includes introduction and notes by Bellows

Read a kid-friendly version of the story here.
* Sigrdrífa is called Brynhild in this version

JUDGES

I am extremely proud to announce the judges for the art contest. I greatly respect both of these incredibly talented people, and I'm very happy that they agreed to participate this year. The three of us will judge the entries together.

Simon Fraser
Simon Fraser
This brilliant Scottish artist is one of my absolutely favorite comics creators. I've been following his work since it first appeared in the UK's 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine in the mid-1990s, and I'm continually amazed by his fusion of Bollandesque clarity of line, Corbenish depth of color and Mœbiusistic level of detail with a determinedly personal vision.

Simon's work with writer Robbie Morrison on the Megazine's Shimura series was fantastic, but the pair's collaboration on their co-creation Nikolai Dante was revelatory.

Nikolai Dante with friends, enemies & frenemies
Art by Simon Fraser
Between 1997 and 2012, the adventures of the Russian rogue happened in real time. The characters aged and changed, loved and lost, lived and died. In my four decades as a comic book fanatic, I have never been moved by any title as deeply as I was by this series. Years later, I still can't think of the series without feeling a tug of emotion. It's a tremendously powerful and perfectly unique work, and Simon's art deserves the highest accolades than can be given.

He has also made his mark on the legendarium of Judge Dredd himself, drawing the adventures of the future lawman to scripts by creator John Wagner, Robbie Morrison, Gordon Rennie and John Smith.

Simon is currently gaining a new legion of fans with his wonderful work on Doctor Who for Titan Comics. You can check out Simon's comics art, illustration and portraits at his wonderful website, simonfraser.net.

Dr. Merrill Kaplan
Dr. Merrill Kaplan
One of today's strongest voices in the field of Scandinavian studies, Merrill is Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University. She's also Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at the Center for Folklore Studies and Affiliated Faculty with the Department of Comparative Studies. On top of all that, she's Director of the Scandinavian Program Faculty at the university.

Merrill teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Norse mythology, medieval Icelandic saga, Old Norse language and related subjects. She has published several academic articles and co-edited the collection News from Other Worlds: Studies in Nordic Folklore, Mythology and Culture (2012). Last week, she hosted the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. I'm exhausted just thinking about everything she does!

She studied with John Lindow at the University of California at Berkeley, where she completed her PhD in 2006 with a dissertation on The Irruption of the Past in Nornagests þáttr and Allied Texts. Her undergraduate degree at Harvard University was in Folklore and Mythology with a thesis on "Re-Evaluating Ragnarök: An Examination of the Gosforth Cross as a Celtic Christian Monument."

You can learn more about Merrill at her faculty page, and you can find out about the Scandinavian Program at OSU by clicking here.

AGE CATEGORIES

There will be three winners in each of the following categories:

Kids: Age 12 & under
Teens: Age 13-19
Adults: Age 20 & up

RULES

1. Art must be done with crayons, markers, paint, pen, pencil or digital materials.
2. Original art only; no photos or collage.
3. Art must be kid-friendly; no nudity or violence.
4. No copyrighted characters. Let’s leave the Marvel Comics to the professionals!
5. One entry per person, please.

HOW TO ENTER

Send an email to mythcontest@live.com that includes the following:

1. Your full name (kids can give first name and last initial)
2. Your age (as of June 19, 2015)
3. Your location (city, state/province, country)
4. A short description of your artwork that explains how it relates to the poem
5. Your artwork (as an attachment)

Seriously, don’t forget to include your art as an attachment!

ENTRY DEADLINE

Midnight (Chicago time) of June 19, 2015

WINNERS

Winners will be featured on all
Norse Mythology Online sites
Simon, Merrill and I will be judging the entries based on creativity and relation to Norse mythology. Do some reading, do some thinking and make something original!

The three winners in each age group will be featured on The Norse Mythology Blog, The Norse Mythology Facebook Page, The Norse Mythology Google+ Page, The Norse Mythology Pinterest Page and The Norse Mythology Twitter Page. Your art and your description of it will be posted on all the many sites of Norse Mythology Online and will remain permanently in the The Norse Mythology Blog Archive.

June 22: Kid winners announced
June 23: Teen winners announced
June 24: Adult winners announced

It’s time to sharpen your pencil and start drawing. Good luck!
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