Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia imprint)
Story: Jonathan Rivera
Artwork: Jade Zhang
Letters: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 17th March 2021
The Storyteller series has been going long enough that I hope it doesn’t need much of an introduction or explanation. Each issue is a stand-alone story themed around a specific genre or word. This time round it’s the turn of the tricksters and here specifically, the spider god Anansi.
Having taken shelter in an old wooden cabin for the evening, the Storyteller and his faithful canine companion encounter a large spider spinning away. In an effort to settle his dog’s concern over the presence of such a strange looking beast, the Storyteller begins to recount the tale of Anansi and how without such spiders we might not have had any of these stories at all.
I’m a big fan of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, and take a fair bit of comfort in both the nostalgic cosy warmth that the series evokes as well as the format itself. Single, contained stories which can be picked up and enjoyed by themselves or in collected volumes, covering a real breadth of diversity. I was particularly excited to get a chance to read this issue, as my knowledge of the tale of Anansi is limited to what I had experienced from other pop culture influences. With that said, I appreciate that this is effectively a condensed telling of this myth and cannot attest to how well it reflects the cultural heritage or significance.
Without giving the game away, Anansi is the perfect embodiment of the trickster. Tasked with seemingly impossible trials by his father the Sky God to win the collected wisdom and stories of man, Anansi sets off with his son with nothing but wit and cunning.
The art by Jade Zhang throughout is solid enough and helps carry the story along. There’s plenty of colour and nods to the origin of this fable, but I do wonder if the team missed a trick by not leaning more heavily into the Akan and West African imagery? The storytelling is also similarly solid and does a fine job of capturing the essence of these myths in such a short span. I found some of the narration effects, whilst clearly intended, a bit distracting, particularly the use of repetition. Perhaps I just wasn’t finding the correct ‘voice’ whilst reading.
Overall, Tricksters looks to be another fine, and welcomed, addition to Jim Henson’s The Storyteller line. As I say, this provides an easily acccessible gateway into folkloric myth from around the world that might otherwise be difficult to source. I’ll be looking forward to sharing these with the kids, and I think that’s part of the charm of these – continuing the storytelling tradition with a new audience.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster