Visually stunning, mythic, disturbing comic about a tiny, brave little black girl named Lee, who descends into the underworld beneath the swamp to save her father from a lynch mob, and her best friend from a swamp monster. Volume two continues her quest in a world in which spirits, monsters, and adorable anthropomorphized animals enact American myths and American history.

Jeremy Love said in an interview, "I’ve always been interested in the mythology of America. The south, in particular, seems like a haunted place. You have this region that is covered with blood but produces so much beauty. I never really felt connected to African mythology until I started reading Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus tales. Seeing how elements of African mythology were interwoven with American folklore was the spark. What led me to the Uncle Remus tales was Disney’s Song of the South, a film I’ve always had mixed feelings about. I felt I as an African American creator could reclaim that mythology.

I thought this world would be the perfect place to stage an epic fantasy tale. I could mash up elements of the Civil War, blues, African mythology, Southern Gothic and American folklore and show how they form a tapestry that is the American South."

If you can deal with the sometimes horrific and violent content, made about ten times more disturbing because so much of it deals with real history, not to mention real racist imagery, this is an extremely powerful and satisfying work.

I especially recommend it if you're even passingly familiar with African-American history, folklore, and folk songs. I don't think you have to catch all the references to appreciate this, but it adds a lot if you do. In volume two, for instance, a character is introduced early on, and then named a little later. He works as a character even if you've never heard of him before, but I actually exclaimed aloud with delight when his identity was revealed.

Bayou Vol. 2

In case this may sway someone to read this, the mystery character is below the cut. (CAPS not mine - that represents a huge font.)

Read more... )
A gorgeous, haunting comic book with echoes of everything from the very best bits of Stephen King to some of the very worst bits of American history, with detours into a very creepy take on Alice in Wonderland, not to mention Br’er Rabbit.

Lee is a tiny but very determined little black girl living in Charon, Mississippi, 1933, on the banks of a bayou full of strange beings whom no one but she sees, or at least no one but she acknowledges. When her white friend Lily is taken by a folk song-humming monster, Lee’s father is jailed for kidnapping Lily (basically because he’s black) and is under threat of being lynched.

Lee ventures into the bayou to save her father and her friend, and so begins her journey into a twisted Wonderland in which the racism and weight of history that exists above the bayou also plays out below, enacted by monsters and giants, butterfly-winged spirits and talking dogs.

This is one of the most purely American works I’ve read in a while, and it gains a lot if you can catch at least some of the passing references to history and folklore. I’ve heard the argument that so much American fantasy is set elsewhere because America doesn’t have enough history and folklore to draw on. Apart from that this leaves out most of America's actual (Indian) history and folklore, this brief book alone proves that even recent history and folklore is sufficient for fantasy: though this volume is short, it’s the start of a series with a distinctly epic feel.

The art is gorgeous, often with a pastoral, children’s book illustration feel, which only makes a lot of the often-horrific images even more disturbing. Some panels, like one of Lee standing against the sunrise with the silhouette of a crow flying overhead, are simply beautiful. The colors are almost translucent, like watercolors.

I liked this a lot, and will definitely be following it. It’s beautiful to look at, deals with a lot of folklore and history that’s very close to my heart, and Lee is exactly the sort of heroine I adore, a prickly, real-feeling person who ventures into completely unknown and dangerous territory armed with nothing but love, courage, and a big historic axe. (And, eventually, a shotgun she borrowed from a swamp monster.)


Volume 2, which is available for pre-order now, comes out in January. Bayou Vol. 2


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