Zana #1 Alternate History and Mythology



Emet comics has just released Zana #1, a comic set in South Africa, in a future where the apartheid never ended. Among the villages full of magical customs and society restrictions are fantastical creatures and technology.

In our reality, apartheid, the enforced racial segregation  maintained by the National Party in South Africa ended in 1994. In Zana, Nelson Mandela was executed, not imprisoned,  and everyone lived very differently due to their skin color.

Within this strict society, tension and fear among the villages are putting everyone on edge. Oblivious to all of that is the young 16-year old heroine, Zana, who is grudgingly getting ready for her initiation ceremony. This is some intense initiation ceremony where she has to call upon an ancestor to vouch for her worthiness to the village. Be kind to your elders indeed.

At the same time, a public call has gone out for the village to cull their “un-worthies” by three people. These would be people who are deemed useless by the village, easy targets for those harboring racial tension or hatred. Zana and her friend, Bisa are essentially screwed because of their differences. Zana has a different skin color from the rest of the village and is the target of racial attacks and Bisa has an amputated leg, though she is pretty awesome. She moves around on one leg attached to a wheel.

As oblivious as Zana is to the world outside of the village, she is well aware of the tension within. She knows the scorn the villagers have for her skin color and parentage. She was warned by sensible Bisa of the call made out to cull villagers. This makes Zana’s decision to call on a particular ancestor bizarre. Maybe this can be chalked up to youthful rebellion, but it results in some pretty horrible consequences.

Barker wrote this story fantastically. In one issue, the reader was able to glean every quickly how wonky this world was. Much can be lost in translation in incorporating cultural elements not familiar in the US. Most often than not, it results in a lot of stereotypical shallowness. Reading this comic was refreshing in how well balanced the story and the unfamiliar cultural references were. It also helps that Zana is a character that everyone can easily relate to, no matter which culture:a sullen teen determined to do things here own way.

The art is done by Joey Granger and is also equally fantastic. The colors are so rich and the style so beautiful. The characters in the comic were drawn in realistic proportions with a soft roundness that made me think of Lilo and Stitch. Very few artists can depict a dark skinned person well, let alone in gorgeous way. I am loving this style so much!

The first mainly focuses on this one village, one small part in a whole big picture of crazy. The action and excitement occurs towards the end, and I’m definitely looking forward to the future issues  and all the mythological adventure that is sure to come. Plus I have so many questions I need answered!

I am genuinely excited to see what the next issue will bring. I had my reservations when reading this comic. I expected something more heavy on the political angle. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see the alternative historical elements and mythological bits.

The comic can be purchased from the comic website:

  Emet Comics was founded in January 2015 by a community of female filmmakers to empower storytellers and artists who didn’t feel like they had a platform for their diverse stories. It is widely known that media images can be incredibly powerful in influencing biases that marginalize young women, often making them feel like they aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, or brave enough.   Emet Comics aims to empower young women to see themselves as the beautiful and amazing people that they are; to see themselves in the driver seat of their lives and to dare to dream the impossible! Through bold and diverse comics, Emet’s creators are proving that women are not afraid to take risks, dream, and lead adventurous lives.  They hope to create a movement to empower female storytellers and in turn empower women all over the




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