What if apartheid never ended? What if in the near future, Africa is divided into a three-class system?
Zana, a young mixed-race girl (an Urban), is coming of age in a land divided into sectors where restrictions are placed as to population. The white “Royals,” overseers of the nation, monitor each district. If the number of citizens in a region exceeds the Royals limit, a cleansing or purge is demanded or supplies given to each village will be reduced. Even though those who are not Royals are oppressed, there are still barriers between the Urbans and the black Tribals.
Zana has reached the age of sixteen where she faces initiation; a spiritual custom in finding one’s place among their tribe. She must partake in the ritual and call upon her ancestors to vouch for her. Zana’s mother pleads to her daughter to call upon her own mother, rather than the grandmother of her white estranged father.
When the ceremony commences, the young girl defiantly looks upward and calls upon her father’s mother. This evokes hysteria among the crowd and a spirit rises from the flames of the ceremonial fire demanding that the teenage girl’s life be taken.
Zana’s mother had an animal, saddled with supplies, on hand in the event the initiation went awry. Scooped up by her best friend Bisa, the two ride off and flee the village, the mobbing townspeople, and the angry spirit which was summoned.
In its premiere issue, this politically-charged action/drama has laid the groundwork for a solid story to come. Writer Jean Barker’s depiction of a “What if?” scenario shows how different things could have progressed had apartheid still existed. Her tale of a young, teen girl, mocked by her all-black classmates for being mixed, highlight the cruelty that kids still face today. She has done a superb job at incorporating the Afrikaans language in the dialogue to add to the environment. Artist Joey Granger skillfully illustrates the harsh conditions and environment in a impoverished land. The colors Granger incorporates emit the warmness of the African nation and helps the reader to immerse in the culture.
I think Zana has a lot of promise. Obviously the main storyline will center on the two girls on the run, but there is much more to explore. We will likely learn more of Zana’s white father, who had been mentioned a few times. Her friend Bisa could develop into a deep, emotional outlet for Zana. Would love to see more on the different classes (Royals, Urbans, and Tribals) and the confrontations faced by one another. So much to explore, but the combo of Barker and Granger appear to be setting the stage for an epic tale of adventure, coming of age, and (hopefully) cultural unity.
Here’s the official summary from EMET Comics for Zana:
Writer: Jean Barker
Artist: Joey Granger
In a future South Africa in which apartheid never ended, the appearance of an angry ancestral spirit sets two village girls on the path to a dangerous destiny.
TEEN +13 – Some material may not be suitable for children. Subject matter may have mild violence, and inappropriate language/body humor.
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Jean Barker (writer/creator):
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