Ive been reading comic books since I could read, which was around 3 and a half years old. The stories and characters of the big two comic book companies were all I had to read. Among those stories, it was rare that I came across characters that I could relate to early on, rarer still to come across characters that I could relate to AND were cool.
The indie comic book offering IsNana the Were-Spider encompasses both the aforementioned attributes. I only had to wait about 40 years to come across something like this. But a child will be born tomorrow, that is certain. And when he wants to read a graphic novel representative of his culture, he’ll have this book.
Created by Greg Anderson-Elysee, IsNana is the son of Anansi, west African god of storytelling. In Volume One (Forgotten Stories), the duo team up to dispatch nefarious and horrible creatures of malice.
Volume Two (The Hornet’s Web) finds IsNana battling evil on his own while still looking to find his place in the world.
Recently, I spoke to Greg Anderson-Elysee regarding this action-packed and much needed offering.
The Shadow League: What is the basis of IsNana?
Greg Anderson-Elysee: Its pretty much a father and son, coming of age story. The son of Anansi the Spider from the West African and Caribbean mythology. Anansi is the god of stories. The story is, he continues the legacy of Anansi but at the same time trying to find his place in the world. In the book, Im trying to introduce a lot more black mythological gods and deities and heroes.
Whether theyre from Africa, Caribbean or African American folktales, I just want to showcase that we have awesome characters, gods and deities that match up to Hercules and Zuess, the greek gods and the norse gods, but we can do our thing, too. And with our own characters. A lot of us just havent been educated in knowing who they are. Thats what Im trying to do with IsNana the Were-Spider.
TSL: Youre on the second volume now and things are steadily progressing. Whats that been like?
GAE: Its been amazing. Ive just launched a Kickstarter and today we are very close to the goal. We are currently sold out of volume one. People who missed out on volume one will have the ability to pledge on volume one and volume two at the same time. So far, weve got a lot of great reception. A lot of returning readers came back for volume two and a lot of new people who missed out and want to take advantage.
TSL: I thought I saw an IsNana the Were-Spider toy. Did I?
GAE: For my first volume, I had an Anansi plush toy. A lot of people loved that. Its been difficult for me trying to get it done. My designer is busy with all his stuff. This volume, I have a Funko Pop Toy of IsNana himself. A lot of people have gravitated to that. The reception has been great. I feel excited about it because Ive never had a Funko Pop and my very first character was my own Funko Pop.
TSL: For our readers, what is the overall purpose of IsNana, aside from simply being a comic book?
GAE: Growing up, we loved superheroes. They are essentially our new myths, when you think about it. And, you have Superman, you have Batman, you have Spider-Man. Those characters are awesome. Theres a reason they appeal to so many people of all types of age groups and all types of races. But, sometimes you dont really think about how important race is until you become educated on it. And, me as a kid, I was watching X-Men, and when Bishop first came on the ’90s X-Men, I was just like Who the hell is this dude! He was this badass that was just kicking everybodys ass. That meant so much to me because, at that time, Id never seen a black superhero.
So, knowing that and seeing how kids gravitate to IsNana, a lot of them are like Oh, this guy looks like me! A guy came up to me with dreadlocks and was like Oh my God, a superhero whos not Static but has dreadlocks!. So, everyone likes to be represented. Unfortunately, thats something a lot of white fanboys dont understand because of the privilege. They dont understand how important it is. I feel like my book is providing for that Black perspective.
I want to be there for all those kids that think that Black Panther isnt enough, or Static isnt enough because hes not being pushed the way he should be. We can do our own stuff. We dont need to rely on the big two. Weve been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.
TSL: Black Panther arrives in theaters February 2018 and there has been much fanfare. This quite a big deal for me considering that I was born seven years after that characters creation by Jack Kirby. Yet, were only now seeing him get the type of billing he has always deserved. Im hoping it doesnt take 40 years for IsNana to get the proper love.
GAE: Im hoping it wont take that long. People are responding and its a great testament to all my hard work, my team and theyve all been busting their asses coming up with this book, plus all my fans who wanted to see something new.
TSL: Ive also read that youre going to be doing crossovers with other indie creators and characters?
GAE: Chuck Collins of Bounce. Theres going to be a crossover with his bouncer character. Micheline Hess, who does Malice in Ovenland, N. Steven Harris Ajala character is doing a crossover with IsNana as well. I just want to show that there are indie works out there. We can all come together, push each other, and do crossovers too.
The launch date for Is’Nana the Were-Spider: The Hornet’s Web is expected to be delivered June 2018.