Writer(s): Juni Ba.
Illustrator(s): Juni Ba .
Publisher: TKO Studios.
Release Date: April 27th 2021.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
My Overall Rating:
Inspiration is a funny thing. It can be stimulated just like it can spring out of the blue. Yet once it knocks at your door, everything becomes clearer, even the most ludicrous of ideas can become crystal clear in the right hands, or rather, in the right minds. But it’s one thing to imagine your ideas. It’s another to bring them to life through the myriad of mediums that exists today. For one Senegalese-born author and illustrator, story-telling and drawing have been a part of his life ever since he was little and his mind never stopped creating. As his debut graphic novel, Juni Ba brings forth an exciting new West African fantasy adventure where life is a crossroad between wisdom, culture, and history.
What is Djeliya about? The story follows the adventures of Mansou, the last prince of a dying kingdom, and Awa, his royal storyteller Djeliya, as they wander off on a journey to meet the mysterious wizard Soumaoro who once destroyed their world and then hid in his tower with a fearsome power that no one else possesses. Throughout their journey, they encounter various allies and foes who would stop at nothing to hinder their plans. Along the way, they also share moments, reminiscing about the past, traditions, and cultures, as well as stories and legends filled with great lessons that helped their people strive towards happiness, knowledge, and power. However, what they discover at the tower could change the fate of this post-apocalyptic world if they don’t do something about it. Will they make the right call or will history repeat itself?
“Fear and superstition are weapons far more terrifying than rifles and bombs. Even in a world where the strangest events can occur, anxiety and blind beliefs foster violence.”— Juni Ba
This debut graphic novel is imbued with relentless passion. Writer and artist Juni Ba does a formidable job to incorporate this adventure with the oral tradition of story-telling and beautifully explores the strength of folklores, cultures, and history of the people. With strong Western African influence, he draws upon the magic of anthropomorphic animals, the wisdom behind symbols, and the post-apocalyptic world’s pseudo-futuristic elements to bring this world to life. Narratively structured in an unorthodox fashion, he builds this world by tactfully telling multiple stories that give readers a better understanding of the past and the present. To further immerse readers, he also infuses the story with the language of the Wolof and Twi and invites readers to discover these through additional content at the end of the graphic novel.
Drawing upon the various cultures that influenced him throughout his own life, writer and artist Juni Ba channels both visual abstraction and cacophony into his artwork while giving it a modernized touch to give his work a one-of-a-kind style. Little of his artistic vision can be called conventional with the singular panel structuring fully embraced throughout the graphic novel, whether it’s overlapping panels or irregular panel arrangements. His artwork also brings into play a truly fascinating and expressive world that effortlessly captures the very essence of escapism. Even the colouring is subject to the author’s creative whim but mostly portrays the post-apocalyptic setting of this story through vibrant, playful yet grim colours. If anything, creativity is through the roof in this West African fantasy epic.
Djeliya is a stunning and authentic West African folklore-inspired story about stories, cultures, and history.