Is’nana The Were Spider Volume 1 and 2 Review
Writer Gregory Anderson-Elysee
Artist Walter Ostle/Lee Milewski (Volume 1) and Daryl Toh (Chapter 1 of Volume 2/Volume 2 Cover)
Colors Lee Milewski (Volume 1 & 2) and Kat Aldrich (Volume 2)
Letters Joshua Cozine
Cover & Logo Design Walt Msonza Barna
Cultural appreciation is a thing. At least I hope it is. If not I’m making it a thing. There has to be a line, especially in America, where we can appreciate each other and our differences. I feel like comics can be a breeding ground for all that is good and right with the world, and Is’nana is not only an example of that idea, it’s huge step forward for cultural appreciation within comics. I feel like this idea isn’t lost on the general public. Prime example; everyone’s favorite Norse God Thor. Marvel’s Thor is more than just another Marvel comic book, it’s a stepping stone for many comic fans who may not know Thor is a god of Norse mythology. Same for Achilles, Zeus, and the Greek pantheon; comics give these stories an unlimited creative platform to thrive and bring to life the stories from all different cultures. Stories like Is’nana are not only wanted by people like myself and other comic fans, they are needed for the general public. Really it’s a win win; people like myself get to learn about another culture through creative stories and amazing artwork, while the people from said culture get to enjoy positive cultural representation.
Elysee uses Is’nana by taking the essence of Anansi the West African god of spiders and spinning his own web of tales. Elysee uses Anansi’s son Is’nana as the main protagonist but wastes no time getting into the story and introducing not just Is’nana but Anansi and other African gods. What makes Is’nana so appealing is that Elysee’s writing style will appeal to a diverse audience. His storytelling is fun and centers on the art but every word is relevant and moves the the narrative forward, allowing for the artist to convey things while remaining less dependant on exposition. I feel like Is’nana would be a great addition to a library section that’s centered around children’s learning. Much like a child I’m always trying to learn about new things and other people’s culture, this is where the term cultural appreciation comes in. Elysee has developed a character from African myth that’s fun and entertaining while also being educational for those of us that haven’t had much exposure to African myth. From the first few pages it’s evident that Elysee cares about the myths he’s writing about and it’s also clear that he wants to incorporate a lot of characters, not just Anansi.
Each volume of Is’nana has a different penciler but they both came with professional level creativity and pleasing character design. Ostlie has a style that is more sharp and defined while Toh has a more rounded look. Ostlie’s style is very unique and recognizable if you happen to have seen anything he’s done but he changes his style up just a little bit to accommodate the unique ideas behind Is’nana. Ostlie rounds out some of the more sharp lines he usually does but in retrospect it happens to work really well with the switching of the guard to Toh in volume two. Toh has a bit more rounded style that reminds me of American anime. Both artists are unique and both volumes of Is’nana are tied together by Milewski’s choice of color palette. Milewski has help in issue two from Aldrich but they both keep it consistent and similar enough from volume one to two to not throw off the reader and make sure the reader sees a consistent product. Finally, the last part of the art. What really holds the consistency factor together, and stands out in both volumes, is the lettering. Cozine has a distinctive balloon design for Anasi, the spider; as well as the font for the letters. Cozine puts a wonderful final touch on the look of Is’nana