LOS ANGELES – Award-winning writer/director and active philanthropist Chris Jaymes has three decades in the entertainment industry, as an actor, director, and writer, and member of the Capitol Records recording artist band, Bootstraps. His impressive graphic novel inspired by the Greek War of Independence, Sons of Chaos, is now available in Greek, translated from English by Alexis Kalofolias. Released by Kaktos Publishing under the title 1821: Ta Paidia tis Epanastasis (Children of the Revolution), the book is a great gift idea just in time for Christmas and the 200th anniversary of the start of the Revolution. Jaymes spoke with The National Herald about the book and how it feels to see it released in Greece after the COVID pandemic indelibly marked 2020.
He said, “After spending nearly a decade thinking about someone else's history and someone else's culture and then creating a project around it, the most vulnerable sentiment comes from the population you're writing about. This is your toughest audience and the one that can drive the project to its ultimate fate, be it a success or a failure. It's wonderful that the book was well received at the numerous Comicons and book events and signings throughout North America, but it wasn't until arriving in Greece at Athenscon where I first encountered the audience that meant the most.
“The support that the book has received in Greece has been the most gratifying by far. The blessing that Greek publishing companies were interested in getting behind the Greek Edition and that PUBLIC was interested in an exclusive deal for the initial period of release was proof that maybe all of these years have amounted to something. The warmth and friendships from individuals in Greece that have grown this past year because of the book has far exceeded anything I could've asked for.”
Jaymes told TNH, “Never could we have foreseen what 2020 would bring and for years my sights were focused on having the graphic novel (and numerous other 1821 projects related to the book) ready to bring to the public for the 2021 bicentennial celebration of the liberation of Greece. The irony that we now find ourselves in a scenario where our freedoms are inhibited at a level higher than any other in the past 200 years for entirely different reasons with entirely different challenges and obstacles could have never been predicted. As we have all had our plans for this past year derailed, this is true for myself and the intentions surrounding the pushing the project forward. 2020 was meant to be filled with numerous events throughout Greece where I had been invited to speak at the Gennadius Library, teach masterclasses at Aristotle University, and travel throughout Greece attending events and engagements and conferences and festivals all summer long. It would have been my first moments in Greece outside of the winter months and my first time where my head wasn't locked into books and libraries and research.”
Jaymes continued, “This all changed in March as the events I was scheduled to attend began reaching out to inform me that everything was being postponed until September… from the Thessaloniki Comicon, Comicdom, and numerous others. The momentum that had been building over the previous years began to deflate. The discussions with the Greek Opera became hollow after months of discussing and developing a possible opera surrounding the book, a documentary series visiting key cities of 1821 investigating the evolution of a nation after revolution, and a project focused solely upon the Dance of Zalongo.”
He said, “The initial reaction to our newfound reality was painful and self-serving and petty and was quickly shifted from a message I received from Andreas Pefanis, the head of Athenscon who had become one of my closest newfound Greek friends after presenting the book in Athens in December. He explained that he was taking his father to the hospital and that they both had tested positive for COVID. A few weeks later Andreas had recovered but his father was not as fortunate. At this point, the pandemic became a reality and the concept I had of 2020 was gone.”
James told TNH, “By the end of March, all plans were cancelled and I began volunteering with CORE, a non-profit started by Sean Penn and we began working with Mayor of Los Angeles setting up free drive thru COVID test sites throughout the county. Within weeks the organization went from having 30 people to nearly 900 and expanded from California to New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Navajo Nation, and many other cities. Somehow, the need for distraction quickly became filled with purpose and I had become a part of an amazing team and created a new family of humans to share the uncertainty with.”
He noted that “somehow during this time, the evolution of the Greek edition managed to survive as did a number of the relationships with the organizations in Greece, which led to the realization of the book as well as a number of virtual speaking engagements over the past months. The discussions continue and the intention remains that not only this book, but a number of the other 1821 themed projects that we have put energy into will continue to realize a return to life in the same manner as we all do.”
Jaymes said, “The trials of 2020 have forced us to look at our lives in a newfound perspective and in many ways, for better or worse, we have been forced to spend time with ourselves and recognize the truth of our existence. The lives we have created for ourselves, our habits and dependencies, have been exposed in a manner that is hard to deny and impossible to hide from.”
He continued, “As I have been forced to continue looking at the events of 1821 during this time, the correlations of freedom or lack thereof continue to surface. The persistence and tenacity of a people striving to stand strong against profound uncertainties. The eternal ambiguity of who might live or die today— the questions surrounding how things will change and when seem to correlate quite synchronously, though the opposition was much more tangible 200 years ago.
“That said, the more I look at the patterns throughout history when it comes to the Greeks, it seems that within the Greek DNA exists some sort of inexplicable— something, that surfaces time and again when faced with the most impossible of obstacles. When pushed against the wall by a force that should not be overcome, somehow the Greeks manage to organize, unite and empower themselves and find a way to make miracles. That's what happened in 1821 and that is what we need again now more than ever.
“There is no greater example in Modern History of the power of unification than the Greek Revolution of 1821. The world must be reminded that when faced with an impossible scenario, it is through the unification of a people that we can prevail. The power of unity is the only force that defies logic for the greater good.
“And somehow, as we approach 2021, this is a lesson we need now more than ever,” Jaymes concluded.
More information about Sons of Chaos and the Greek language edition, 1821: Ta Paidia tis Epanastasis, is available online: sonsofchaos.com.