I can’t say enough good things about the award-winning webcomic, Bayou, by Jeremy Love (writer) and Patrick Morgan (artist).
Bayou was one of the first serial stories to debut on Zuda Comics, the webcomics initiative by DC Comics. For anyone who still believes that comics are all capes and tights, these pages will introduce you to the breathtaking possibilities of visual storytelling. Love and Morgan draw on a wealth of black folk cultural material in their historical representation of racism and poverty in the South.
The synopsis begins:
“South of the Mason-Dixon Line, lies a strange land of gods and monsters. Born from centuries of slavery, civil war, innocent bloodshed, hate and strife lurks a world parallel to our own. LEE WAGSTAFF is the daughter of a poor, sharecropper in a depression-era, Mississippi Delta town, called Charon. She’s an introspective, brave child and hard labor in the fields has made her sturdy and strong.”
Lee is a powerful heroine, at once vulnerable and fearless. In the story, she tries to keep her father from being lynched by saving a white friend from a “Southern Neverland” where animals are in control. There to help her is “a benevolent, blues-singing, swamp monster called BAYOU.” Br’er Rabbit makes his way into the story, as does a parasitic swamp villain named Bog. I can’t help but admire Lee’s determined pout and I love how her plaits turn into a fuzzy afro when she is pulled out of the swamp water.
Now this isn’t a story for children; the art is both beautiful with its glowing earth tones, and shockingly violent. Nor are the creators afraid to insert a little humor. (Watch out for the carnivorous “Jim Crows” in the fourth issue…!) Bayou is deeply inventive in its use of history and folklore, and joins other recently published graphic novels like Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow and Stagger Lee in depicting complex, thoughtful stories of black America during segregation. I can’t wait to see where Love and Morgan take the story, and I hope that this comic will appear in print soon.