Comic Review: Is’nana The Were-Spider in Showtime
To start with, if you aren’t familiar with Is’nana the Were-Spider, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. It’s time you come on out, especially for this. “Showtime” is the 4th in a series of Is’nana stories that writer Greg Anderson Elysee has written, and he has not missed the mark yet.
“ShowTime” is what Elysee calls a “coming-of-age” tale for young hero Is’nana, son of famed Anansi, the West African god of stories. However, this is not your ordinary bildungsromane. Showtime is so much more than that. Elysee managed to craft a coming-of-age story embedded in a fish-out-of-water plot. the result is both a love-letter to the Black and Brown youth culture of New York, and a vibrant celebration of the New York that outsiders rarely get to see on tv and in movies. (I know… I am one of those outsiders).
They say that there is no such thing as a perfect story, but I am pretty sure that ‘Showtime’ debunks that theory. I love how this narrative masterfully weaves in and out of a very real-feeling New York. It’s one imbued with fantasy in that if you blink, you’d forget that the other really existed. One would almost think that the God of stories had sat on Elysee’s shoulder and whispered to him as he wrote.
All of the Is’nana stories are good, quite good, but this one feels different. Seeing Is’nana as part of a team, a crew, felt right. It felt so natural! I love the banter between him and the other teenagers. There’s also the casual way they gave him a nickname. It’s the same way only your people do–you aren’t consulted in the process and once the name finds you, it sticks! I loved the careless way that he went from Is’nana to Izzy, just like that, and how it was just accepted as fact. Our boy even got himself a street name: The Were-Spider! Watching Is’nana build relationships with other kids was just gratifying.
One of the things that I hate-to-love is how Elysee brought Is’nana face to face with the realities of being a young black boy in the city, anywhere really, these days. Though Is’nana has bested many-a-foe in his past or current adventures, he had yet to face the realities of growing up black. It hurt to see, but it was done in such a way that it didn’t feel like more black trauma for the sake of black trauma, especially with how the event ends (which I won’t say because you need to buy this book and find out).
Greg Anderson Elysee did not tell this tale alone. The Were-Spider team definitely showed up and showed out! Michael White (aka Miguel Blanco) is the man behind the pen. This award-winning artist and illustrator did so much to bring the characters to life in Showtime. More than just the characters, he brought the city itself to life. I mean, there were so many details that simply didn’t have to be there, and most artists fail to fill space as intentionally as was done here, so I am genuinely impressed. I felt like I was part of the story because the artwork was so efficient at drawing me in.
I am going to try and contain myself here when discussing the coloring, but WOW. The colorist, Angel Davis-Cooper really put her foot in this graphic! The color seeped out of the pages and merged with the story for me. The brilliance and exuberance of her work to me made the story. Showtime would have been a whole different tale without it. I am not an artist, so I am not sure that I have the words to explain how important her work is to this story. From skin tones to background lighting to gradations across the page… it was nothing short of perfect and I mean that. The coloring may just be my favorite part of the whole graphic; sorry Greg and crew, but she killed it!
As far as the lettering is concerned, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice it… which is an extreme compliment. I am weird about lettering, y’all, like weird-weird. I tend to be hyper-vigilant about paying attention to lettering because so many times in reading comics, both indie, and non-indie, the lettering pulls me away from the story. Something is placed weird, or the font is distracting or doesn’t seem to fit the mood of what is happening, or, I don’t know… something! I know most people don’t care, but I do. The lettering here was done in such a way that I almost forgot that I was reading. I wish I knew a more concise way to describe it, but there it is.
I don’t think that I have been unclear at all here in suggesting how much I absolutely adore this comic. I am all about supporting Indie creators, but that has absolutely no bearing on my opinions here. This is one of the best-written pieces that I have read, and I mean that sincerely. Is’nana the Were-Spider: Showtime gave me an excellently crafted plot, immediately love-able character whom you can connect with, and amazing flights of dark-fantasy with very real stakes and consequences. I cannot wait to see how Elysee manages to top this. He has set the bar high for not just Indie creators, but all creators, including himself.
Blerd Galaxy Star Ratings:
OVERALL STAR RATING: