by Juni Ba
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Pub Date 6 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 24 Jul 2022
Juni Ba’s Djeliya is a graphic novel retelling, recontextualization, and remix of the West African Sundiata epic of Mandé origin.
Inspired by West African folklore and stories handed over centuries, this unique graphic novel follows the adventures of Mansour Keita, last prince of a dying kingdom, and Awa Kouyaté, his loyal Djeli, or 'royal storyteller' as they journey to meet the great wizard who destroyed their world and then withdrew into his tower, never to be seen again.
On their journey, they'll cross paths with friend and foe, from myth and legend alike, and revisit the traditions, tales, and stories that gave birth to their people and nurture them still. But what dark secret lies at the heart of these stories, and what purpose do their tellers truly serve?
A Note From the Publisher
Published by TKO Presents and distributed by Simon & Schuster
"Djeliya is a very cool book, a burst of color and magic, themed around the aftermath of colonialism, a book without an easy comparison." ― NPR
"There's so much to enjoy on every page." ― Thrillist
AV CLUB, Best Comics of 2021
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, 50 New Must-Read Comics
THRILLIST, The Best Comic Books & Graphic Novels of 2021
Average rating from 20 members
I love graphic novels, especially ones that are kind of unique in their art style, layout and / or storytelling.
With Djeliya, the influence of the classic 90s cartoons is obvious. I fell in love with the strong black outlines, the way the colour setting - not a lot of different colours and not light at all, but wow, the impact that had - matched the postapocalyptic tone and setting of the story.
At first, the story was a bit tricky to follow, but once you get to know prince Mansour and his storyteller Awa, you are pulled into their adventures. With the story inspired by west-african folklore it is only natural to face words and phrases throughout the story that you might not know, but there are some short explanations on page as well as a glossary at the end, helping you along.
Djeliya is a graphic novel that needs to be savoured, not rushed through. If you give yourself time to travel from frame to frame, you will be pulled into the adventure and storyline in no time. A little gem, that is what Djeliya is.
I loved how thorough this book is. The art style, the color choices, the storyline all seemed to be thought out down to the last detail. Each character seemed to be created with integrity and care. It was a brilliant decision to incorporate the symbols and history behind this book.
Wow! That was an awesome graphic novel. I love the way the author blended a lot of African lore as well as provided some wonderful translation guides, and references to the materials. I hope to see more from Juni Ba.
This is an excellent graphic novel. For me, the illustrations take priority over the story in a graphic novel and this one did not disappoint. The style is both comic-book modern and culturally relevant which adds a lot to the story while serving as engaging visuals. I also want to note that the layout is easy to read. Lots of graphic novels can be tricky to follow visually, but this one did well in that regard. The story is intriguing–I really enjoyed how it was not a straightforward retelling of any specific myth but instead an artful conglomerate to tell a new story with old influences and an inspired vibe. I liked that Ba didn't focus on male characters or even have Mans as the primary character, it was really about Awa. I love strong female characters and I liked the twist at the end with more female characters. Both Mans and Awa grew a lot during the events and it felt natural. The infusion of modern aspects (cool prosthetic legs) and older themes (the myths) threw me off a couple of times because I didn't expect modernity (even futuristic) but once I got used to it it was neat. Overall, a well illustration story with an interesting and complex plot, including cool (yet still relatable characters) and highlighting old legends while still being morally relevant to present day.
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