When last we left Disney’s version of the Greek hero in his 1997 animated film, Hercules had decided to leave behind the trappings of his godly life in favor of a mortal one. But what happened after that “happily ever after”? That’s what writer Elliot Kalan and artist George Kambadais will explore in Dynamite Entertainment’s Hercules #1, debuting this Wednesday, April 10. In the comic series, the gods still plan to call on Hercules for his heroic derring-do, even if he doesn’t want to delve into a life on Mt. Olympus.

I spoke with Mr. Kalan and Mr. Kambadais recently about where we find Hercules at the beginning of issue #1, the appeal of the Disney version of the demigod-turned-mortal, what motivates this version of the hero, and how Disney’s Hercules is very much “the boy next door.”

Dynamite has been consistently knocking it out of the park with its Disney titles and, from the looks of the book, this Hercules series is going to be heavenly. It’ll certainly put the glad in gladiator and a smile on your face!


Hercules #1 cover A


FreakSugar: Before we get into the comic itself, what is your experience with Hercules—the film, the myth, any incarnation of the character?

Elliott Kalan: I’ve been enamored of ancient Greek mythology since I was a small child, so I grew up reading about the labors of Herakles and the many, many other Greek heroes, gods, and creatures. I have to admit, though, I connected more with Orpheus, because he’s so sensitive! Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the movie when it came out, and my only complaint was I wanted more Greek myth stuff!

George Kambadais: So, I, being Greek, have had a sort of relationship with this character from a very young age, long before the Disney movie. His stories were my bedtime stories, and we were even taught some of them in school. Mind you, they were not all ages type of stories, Disney had a lot of work to do before Hercules became child friendly, but still! It might sound weird, but that’s how we Greeks roll. The point is, I loved Hercules long before the movie came out, back when he was a savage brute, but still a hero, one of the good guys, no doubt, and so strong and brave. When the movie came out I saw how strong and brave he was whilst still a normal guy. A sweet kind of person even and funny to boot. So he became much, much more relatable to me, a young boy.

FS: Where do we find the Disney incarnation of Hercules at the beginning of this new series?

EK: The series picks up not long after the movie ends: Hercules has chosen to be a mortal (though still possessing superhuman strength) because of his love of the mortal Meg, but finds himself being pressed into service to clean up the messes of his divine relatives, who don’t fully understand his life choices. They can’t help but treat him as “just a mortal”, even when gods start disappearing and he’s the only one who seems to have an idea why it’s happening.


FS: Who is this Hercules to you? What makes him tick and what appeals to you as creators in working with him?

EK: To me, the Disney Hercules is the ultimate well-meaning, never-quitting, wants to help everyone, slightly naive hero. He’s a character who tries to find the best in everybody, and never wants to lead with his fists, though he really enjoys being superhumanly strong. He’s also in this weird position of being a mortal who’s also the child of gods. We all have issues with our relatives, but I know my relatives don’t symbolize fundamental forces of the universe. In this series, what appeals to me is seeing Hercules have his optimism and persistence tested more than it ever has been before — and watching him hold tightly to those principles. I’m really enjoying writing a character who’s a good person, which I don’t get to do a lot of!

GK: Disney’s Hercules is a very relatable dude. He is strong and great, ok… but he is shy and calm and a bit anxious. Life (and the gods) throws all kinds of crazy stuff his way and he just barely manages to hold on. Still, he comes out stronger on the other side. I, of course, also love his style and, living in Athens right now, I tend to throw a bit of ancient Greek architecture in my panels, imagining that what I am currently drawing is taking place in this or that exact part of my city, where I can sometimes even see the remains of the very same structures I use.

FS: The Hercules film is beloved by many generations of viewers. What do you think is the appeal of this version of the character?

EK: I think it’s really appealing that Hercules is learning how to be a hero, and doesn’t always succeed but never gives up. As opposed to the traditional mythic Herakles, who can be kind of scary and selfish in a way, the Disney Hercules comes across as a nice young lad. A real “demigod next door.”

GK: Disney’s version is both familiar and completely new. In Greek mythology (much less so than other mythologies, but still) the gods, demigods, etc. were grand and distant, still they had all this allure and charm. Disney seems to have brought Hercules in a spot where he can be “reached.” He is a next-door type of person, and a charming one at that.


Hercules #1 cover C


FS: Comics and film are both great mediums, but they each have their own strengths. What can you do with comic storytelling that you can’t with film?

EK: With comics, I believe you can bring the audience in more and get them to engage more actively with the work, because they need to sew the panels together in their minds to make the story flow. It’s hard to read a comic book passively. You can also build your story out of smaller stories, which we’re aiming for here. Many of the issues (especially as the story begins) will function as individual stories that also build toward a larger story arc. In a movie this might feel episodic, but in a comics series it hopefully gives the reader lots of stories to keep their attention — without making them wait forever for one big story to build up.

GK: I think the main asset of the comic medium is that it gives control back to the reader. You can contribute to the narrative. Of course, this is entirely true in any type of art. The recipient is part of the art piece. But I think comics, while being a multimedia artform, are more open to interpretation. It is more in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, than movies. The reader can pace it to his liking, they can read as fast or as slow as they like or linger in a panel they like more. It also leaves more to the imagination.

FS: What has the collaboration process been like? What do you each bring in your love and understanding of the character?

EK: Things seem smooth so far! I’m very happy with the art of George’s that I’ve seen and always excited to see more of it. I think I bring a sort of irreverent but affectionate take on Greek mythology to the book, and a feeling for the positive strengths of the characters.

GK: The collaboration has been so much fun, from the very start. I love working on Elliot’s scripts! As far as the second question I can honestly just say what I am hoping to bring, which is a little bit of firsthand experience with the topography and the people, and lots and lots of love and admiration for the source material.

FS: When working on the book, what inspires your work?

EK: I’m most inspired by the original Disney film, but also by the original Greek myths — though I’m sticking closer to the details of the movie than I am to the myths. I’m also a sucker for classic Marvel-Silver-Age comics where the heroes and villains make jokes and talk out their philosophies as they fight. So there’s plenty of that here.

GK: My city does! It really does. And also, the movie. The Disney movie is the perfect combination of cute and heroic and this is my jam!


Hercules #1 cover D


FS: What comics are you reading right now?

EK: I’m sorry to say I am behind on all of the comics in my pile right now. I’ve been too busy making them to read them! It’s like I wished on a monkey’s paw! My children sometimes let me read them the Eric Shanower/Skottie Young adaptations of the Oz books, however. And in trying to get into the ancient Greek spirit, I’ve been reading Shanower’s Age of Bronze.

GK: I’m enjoying the new Thundercats, Lilo and Stitch, and Darkwing Duck. Actually, all the Disney-Dynamite books are fantastic! Also, I have started reading The Spectacular Spider-Men, which I knew I would like very much, since Greg Weisman is the writer. It was a safe bet for me. I love the guy, I loved working with him in Gargoyles and I love his writing! I’m also a big fan of Ramos’ work! Lastly, I read the new Transformers book from Skybound and I do a lot of re-reads of the old Spider-Man and X-Men books.

FS: Is there anything you can tease about the series for folks reading this?

EK: The series opens with some exciting action stories, but in the background a larger mystery is unfolding. The gods are being kidnapped one by one! Who could be doing this?! Hercules thinks it’s a bad guy he knows very well. Who could that be?! Well he only knows one bad guy?! Is he right?! Well….not exactly.

FS: If you had one more pitch for the series, what would it be?

EK: If you enjoyed the Hercules movie, then I think you’re really going to love this series. It’s got the same sense of adventure, humor, and heart, but on an even grander scale and with all new monsters, menaces, and myths in the mix. We’ll be introducing some new characters I think they’re going to really like, but without losing sight of the classic cast. And if you don’t know the original movie, and you just like heroic heroes and their funny friends dealing with calamitous crises in a wonderous world, then this is definitely the series for you!

Hercules #1 goes on sale this Wednesday, April 10, 2024, from Dynamite Entertainment.

From the official issue description:


The world’s favorite demigod-turned-mortal is back, and he’s about to embark on the biggest adventure since The Odyssey!The Greek gods don’t really get why Hercules chose a mortal life over the opportunity to join them on Mt. Olympus, but since he proved his mettle as a hero many times over, they’re happy to enlist his help with missions that require interventions in the earthly realm. So when Aphrodite grants an artist’s wish that his sculpture be brought to life, Herc gets the call to clean things up when the newly conscious artwork proves to be more bone-crushingly lively than expected!

But after discovering that the rogue statue is just misunderstood, and a little rambunctious (much like himself as a youth), Hercules returns to explain the situation to Aphrodite – only to find her temple empty and abandoned. Is the goddess of love just pouting, or is something more sinister afoot? If you know anything about classic mythology, you know it’s going to be the latter!

The immortal team of Emmy Award-winning writer ELLIOTT KALAN (The Daily Show) and Gargoyles artist GEORGE KAMBADAIS bring these legends of antiquity to hilarious new life in this brand-new ongoing series. This premier issue also features a pantheon of divinely talented cover artists, including KAMBADAIS, MATTEO LOLLI, FRANCESCO TOMASELLI, and more!