‘Zana #1’ Review: An Exciting New Adventure in Modern-Day Apartheid

Cornelia Tzana ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Comic Books Editor

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STORY BY  Jean Barker

ART BY  Joey Granger

PUBLISHER  Emet Comics

COVER PRICE  $ 4.99 (USD)

RELEASE DATE  Oct 14th, 2015

PREVIEW AVAILABLE  View it!

Recently established comic book publisher Emet Comics is starting to make its way into the comic book world and judging by the quality of Zana, one of their latest releases, it is destined for a great future.

Set in a dystopian future South Africa where Apartheid was never overthrown, Zana follows the story of two girls as they are forced to run away from their little village. Zana is an Urban, a person of mixed race who lives with her mother, a black woman, in a little tribal community where customs and rituals are an important part of everyday life. On her 16th birthday, Zana has to follow tradition and call on one of her ancestors to “vouch for her worth”, in order to take her place in the tribe. To the discontent of the other villagers and despite her mother’s warning, Zana calls upon her white grandmother. As expected, this act of defiance makes everything go sour, causing Zana and her friend Bisa to flee the life they knew.

From the very first page, Zana captures the reader’s attention with Joey Granger’s beautiful art. Often reminiscent of African tribal paintings in their composition and great attention to detail, the illustrations successfully capture the aura of the landscape the story takes place in. The muted colors set a tone of serenity, coming into great contrast with the more vibrant elements of the second half of the story.

Granger’s design of Zana has a unique and eye-catching presence, qualities necessary for a great protagonist. Her mixed-race characteristics set her apart from the rest of her tribe, while every other character in the story has distinct expressions that immediately convey their personality.

Jean Barker does an equally exceptional job of building the backstory and character background in only a few pages. Zana follows the relatively common trope of the heroine that doesn’t fit in and wants to break tradition and find herself. However, her racial background in conjunction with the social and political circumstances of her world set the stage for a gripping series of events. She is the perfect subject to explore what it means to be a member of two cultures yet not able to identify with either. It will also be interesting to see how Barker will build upon the idea of the modern-day Apartheid system, for which she will definitely draw from her own experiences growing up in Cape Town, South Africa.

In just 32 pages, Zana manages to capture the reader’s attention and hold it unwaveringly throughout the first issue. From the gorgeous art to the thrilling story, this will be a series to look out for!

Rating: 10/10

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