By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– I will go ahead and lead with something I have said repeatedly: you can tell any story in the comic book medium. Anything. From superheroes to horror, romance to daring rescues, biopics to PSA’s. With TKO Studios’ latest graphic novel Djeliya, we dive into West African lore with monsters, mayhem, and destiny.
From Juni Ba, this is a Graphic Novel unlike any I’ve seen. The vibrant artwork, the character designs- has a very animated and yet old-world feel to it. We follow the duo of the misguided Prince Mansour and his royal storyteller, or Dejeli, Awa, as they make their to the tower of the Wizard Sourmaoro, who thrusted the kingdom into pain and suffering. Mansour hopes to reclaim the land, and Awa will do anything it takes to help.
The story is very much a coming-of-age tale for both Mansour and Awa- both were their preset destinies in their minds. It’s about becoming who you are meant to be, overcoming tragedy, healing, and learning from it. Peppered with music and humor, the story takes the two into dangerous situations with monstrous results. We see plenty of high octane fighting, as well as quick-witted banter- all presented in an art style I have never seen used in the comic book medium. You really have to see the pages and the colors for yourself to really appreciate it.
I very much enjoyed Djeliya- it took me by surprise with a heck of a twist at the end. Fun for young and older adults, TKO has brought a fantastic story to light. Juni Ba is a creator to watch, as so much originality shines from panel to panel and yet pays homage to the folk tales that inspired the journey Ba created here. Make sure to pick this one up; you won’t be disappointed.