When I think of the folklore that is Anansi, I recall teenage mischief. I never had the chance to really grow up hearing about Anansi as a child. Rather, I gained knowledge of the king of all stories by way of Denzel Washington and UB40. Their Jamaican spiced version aired on HBO during the early day for the kids. Even if I wasn’t the demographic, the hilarious story of this mischievous spider made me an instant fan.

Is’Nana: The Anansi Connection

Fast-forward to the year 2009. At this moment, I am an elementary school teacher in Georgia. Many of my children are kids from different countries. Yet, they always found a way to gravitate to the mischievously cunning Anansi. Never the one to shy away from a sly approach, he typically found himself in delicate situations. Still, Anansi was always smart enough to make the most of any moment.

Now, it is 2017 and Anansi is back in the media via Starz. American Gods is causing quite a stir due to its confusingly beautiful visuals and mythological background. Neil Gaiman’s stories come alive through actors that convincingly perform. Mr. Wednesday and Shadow play off each other well enough to make the show compelling. It seems that Starz may have another hit in American Gods.

And in comes Anansi (Mr. Nancy) at the beginning of the second episode.

If anything can be said, Anansi knows how to manipulate and make an entrance. He spends the entire time convincing chained slaves to revolt and burn down a slave ship. His speech is so engaging that even MLK would smile from his grave at such command of language and emotion. Yet, one slave questioned the entire idea. In response, Anansi noted that they are already dead and might as well die for something noble.

From that point, we know that Mr. Nancy is going to be a magnetic fixture on the show.

Is’Nana: The Book Itself

So, where does all this fall into Is’Nana The Were Spider? To be honest, everything I noted before serves as the preface for everything that makes this graphic novel worth the price of purchase.

It all begins with Anansi being trapped on Earth. And this isn’t the Earth he is used to (The Mother Kingdom). Anansi is captured on “our Earth”. Is’Nana, forever the loyal son, gets help from Witch Mistress Five to find him. However, Is’Nana’s travels to Earth led to some shifts and breaks with some barriers and gates of reality. This causes a lot of intruders to come through and wreak havoc.

From that point, they have to save a man from Osebo the Leopard. Many heinous acts have been committed due to Osebo possessing this man’s body. Meanwhile, Is’Nana feels responsible and takes on the charge of stopping the leopard. All of this happens to Anansi’s chagrin; the spider would rather not play savior. And this situation leads to a lot of quick thinking and resolutions for Anansi and Is’Nana alike.

What was most pleasing about this comic book was its commitment to canon.  Greg Anderson-Elysee keeps all the necessary characters from the Anansi stories intact. Also, Anansi isn’t anything more than what he has always been: that smart aleck in the form of a mischievous spider. Even further, there will be plans for other characters to appear from other mythology and folklore (ex: Brer Rabbit, Morpheus, etc.). This graphic novel promises to have the appearance of characters that has made this (and other) folklore worth reading.

Yet, the most compelling part of this graphic novel is the running theme it possesses: family comes first. People may find the Pinocchio-Jiminy styled relationship to be the focus of the book. And it should be. If anything, Anansi is a great father. His encouragement and guidance is a necessity for their success and survival. Is’Nana, always the diligent and dedicated son, listens most of the time. He doesn’t listen to Anansi when he is listening to his heart and not his mind. Still, they make an excellent pair because of Anansi’s fatherly love and Is’Nana’s devotion.

Is’Nana: Epilogue

A story of folklore based canon devoted to familial dedication, Is’Nana The Were-Spider is a book that warrants exploration. This book should be supported for the sake of understanding African heritage for its importance. Also, it really gets into the intersectionality of other folklore and their importance. Adding the spice of family bonding, this book is a true testament of how far one would go for loved ones. In the end, I can’t wait to see stories upon stories teaching lessons upon lessons by the way of Anansi and Is’Nana’s father-son dynamic.

‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!