I had an epiphany a few days ago: the graphic novel I am working on, Pantheon, is a vampire novel. I mean, it doesn’t obviously share with many traditional elements (blood sucking, undead creatures), but they both feature immortal beings that reflect on our humanity in many ways, and most importantly in an existential fashion.
- The godlike point of view: the Pantheon graphic novel utilizes hyper-human characters to help readers to take another look at us human beings from an inaccessible point of view, and therefore see truths we cannot see at our mundane level.
- Help awaken the mystery of existence: these gods and goddesses see a different level of reality, and they have a different set of problems. Their senses and abilities are inhuman. So, when the reader sees gods beset with human issues, then the drama and intensity of Pantheon mythology heighten the reader’s perceptions and awaken them to the profound mystery and significance of existence — something that we all take for granted.
- Meaning of life: Existentialism is not merely obsessed with the meaning of life in general – it is the meaning of life given the reality of death. Since the gods are all immortal they are excellent tools for exploring the meaning of death and how its absence affects the meaning of life. All gods are always about death — they help create individuals, but meddle in mortal affairs and wipe them out at the slightest whim, but most important, they are all immortal. That means they are defined by what they aren’t: mortal. By re-defining and putting into question what it means to be immortal, Pantheon raises the question of what it means to be alive.
- Sensual vs Eternal: traditional philosophy and religions clearly demarcate the realm of the eternal Forms from their temporal manifestations. We as readers are fundamentally separated from the perfection of mathematics, of God and heaven, and so forth. Existential literature re-focuses value on temporal existence here on Earth. Nietzsche sought a wholesale transformation of values that praised the natural world as the only available world to praise. Kaeli’s awakening on Earth as an immortal missing her memories is an allegory of this perspective. As she struggles with her divine heritage, she learns that it does not result in a revelation of truth. There is nothing more to existence — except the disappointing realization that the eternal is temporal – just more of it. Kaeli’s perception is powerful, superhuman, and if she truly embraced that, then her existential transformation would be complete.
For thinkers like Paul, Augustine, Luther and Kierkegaard, it is through the relation to God that the self finds itself. But for Heidegger, the question of God’s existence or non-existence has absolutely no philosophical relevance. The self can only become what it truly is through the confrontation with death, by making meaning out of one’s finitude. If one’s being is finite, then what it means to be human consists in grasping this finitude in becoming who one is – pace Nietzsche. Therefore, immortal beings, lacking true finitude, are always doomed to meaninglessness.