Is’Nana: The Were-Spider
Is’Nana: The Were-Spider is a new and impressive mythological/ horror graphic novel series about the son of the Great Spider God, Anansi. This indie comic is the perfect combination of traditional folklore and modern day superheroes.
Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee, and inspired by the West African and Caribbean folklore (Anansi); Is’nana: takes us into a new world of horror, humanity, and chaos.
Forgotten stories features a clever little intro to remind or introduce new readers to Anansi the spider. It features a cool opening sequence reminiscent of a movie scene, where we are first introduced to the Protagonist, Is’Nana.
The son of a god, who has many powers and is not from this world. He believes that he is at fault for opening the gateway to the Mother Kingdom and releasing all these creatures and horrors into our world. Is’Nana believes that it’s his responsibility to prevent the destruction and chaos these creatures will continue to unleash if not stopped.
Is’Nana is struggling to find his identity while coping with a new scenery and a entirely new world. During his quest he is often observing human interactions and behaviors. He witnesses not only love and laughter but violence and hate. Through his encounters we discover that although he can be very powerful and look extremely threatening he also has a conscience.
I love that this is such a strong and powerful character that also has a vulnerable side.
He strives to impress his father, and with his help along the way they team up to try to keep our world under control from these new threats. We are introduced to villains such as Osebo the leopard whose mission is to terrorize, take control over our world and never be forgotten.
This enticing story along with full colorful pages of great artwork, will definitely draw you in. We get our first glimpse of Is’Nana’s origin in the prologue that features his home, the Mother Kingdom. Growing up Is’nana felt like the oddball of the family, he wanted to make a difference. We see how he discovers a pathway to our earth, barriers shifts in reality, witchcraft & spells.
I had the pleasure of meeting Greg while covering press at the Khem Fest convention this past Spring. We instantly started talking about comics, diversity in the industry and the importance of supporting independent creators.
Greg described to me a little bit about his story and inspiration, and I was captivated. I am a big fan of mythology so I was super excited to pick up a new story that I couldn’t wait to read.
With an impressive resume that includes not only writing comics but writing for theater, making movies, acting, directing and modeling, how do you find the time to do it all? How do you keep your creative juices flowing?
Well, I was bitten by a radioactive Jamie Madrox and now can get so much done! But honestly, it’s about focusing on one or two main projects at a time, but still keeping options open on the side for smaller things. Eventually that one or two projects you were focusing on will finish and leave an opening for the smaller projects to grow and become the main focus. Don’t get me wrong, I do go through lazy days where I don’t want to do anything. But as a whole, I don’t feel sane unless I’m creating, plotting, or researching and reading.
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker and writer? How did you first get into comics?
I wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I was always making stories. In first grade, I would draw these little illustration booklets and staple them together. In a sense, it was my first foray into comics books, which I soon discovered in second grade when I found a comic shop one my way home from school. That shop created a monster. I never looked back. I love visual story telling, whether it’s film or books. The mix of art with stories is such an amazing escapism for me that it’s hard to really keep me interested if not for that. It’s a bit of a high being able to write something down and seeing it come to life. Films and books inspired me and helped me stay sane, I feel it’s only fair I return the favor and hopefully do the same for others seeking some light at the end of a tunnel.
How does your background in film benefit your writing when it comes to comic books?
Well with both, you have to think visually. When you’re writing the script for a film, you’re writing the bare bones of the story down and then if you’re directing that film, you work with your cinematographer to help tell your script visually. It becomes a give and take and a collaborative effort, especially when your cinematographer can help you look at your script in a different light because she or he are imagining the visuals a little differently than what you have in mind and it makes it so much fun, especially when you have trust in each other. There’s a lot of surprises. The same with comic books. As a writer, you HAVE to know how comics work and know how to break down and analyze them and figure what would be do-able for your artist. You HAVE to know how to write visually, you HAVE to know how much dialogue you can fit in a panel, on a page, and how much action is feasible to be on a page. In comics, your artist is the cinematographer and they can see things visually in a different light than how you imagined when you placed those words on your page. It’s actually one of my favorite things about writing comics and working with amazing artists.
What are some struggles you faced, or are currently facing being an independent creator?
The main answer you’ll probably get from every indie writer you’ll ask this (if they’re being honest) is money. Money is by far the biggest struggle for me. Most of the money I make from work and my side jobs go directly into paying artists for my projects. It’s rare I spend money for my own leisure at this point. And if you really want a good and reliable artist, you just have to accept that. You gotta pay.
Another struggle would be some of the difficulties in getting your work out there in people’s hands. Every day is a hustle and it’s rare for me to have a day go by without trying to sell my book somewhere, whether it’s social media or looking for conventions and tables I can afford, etc. They’re all struggles but to be completely honest, I love hustling and grinding for my books, especially when people actually take to them and enjoy it.
How do you go about finding artist to work with you?
Initially I would put out ads but now that I actually have work out, it’s easier for me to meet different artists in the field, especially due to social media and conventions. My main thing is seeing if I can communicate with them and build some type of rapport. If I not only love your work but we can actually have a conversation and have fun chatting it up, then most likely I’m going to want to work with you on something in the future. The main issue, once again, is finances. So many projects I have in mind that I’d love to do with so many artists, but alas.
How were you inspired by the story of Anansi; one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore to create Is’Nana?
Well I love mythology and I’m always trying to learn about Black myths and folklore. Whenever I can find a book on those themes, I’ll most likely spend money I don’t have to buy it. Anansi is one of the most well known African mythological characters and has been a favorite of mine since I was younger. What inspired Is’nana’s conception from Anansi was the fact that I would ask a lot of Black people I knew if they knew Anansi and many times I would hear, “Who? What’s that?” Unless you were directly from certain parts of the Caribbean or West Africa, it was hard for me to find Black people who knew the character. So I felt in a way, Anansi’s legacy was dying within his people and Is’nana was to represent his legacy trying to live on and inspire others and in a sense remind us where we came from and that we as Black people had strength in being knowledgeable of our stories, customs, and roots. So when Is’nana was just coming out, it was exciting for me to hear from people telling me how excited they were because they grew up with Anansi stories and this was a fun way for them to introduce Anansi to their own children who didn’t grow up on those stories.
And now, thanks for American Gods, nearly everyone is starting to know Anansi again. Hopefully that can transfer in them checking out my book!
Can you tell us more about Is’Nana, his super powers, and his significance in the world that you have created?
Sure. So Is’nana is Anansi’s son. I call the book a horror-fantasy/coming of age book. Is’nana is hoping to live up to his father’s name as this great god of stories while he’s also trying to find his own place and individuality in this world. It’s essentially a father and son story also, the two trying to stop these creatures of horrors from other worlds and dimensions from causing chaos in our world while they’re trying not to drive each other crazy at the same time. Is’nana is a spider with a human form in our world but he can tap into different spider forms and abilities, such as shooting webs or using webs as maps or ways to read messages; leaping through the air; agility, growing extra limbs, both spider and human; transforming into a spider; inject venom; using spiders to rebuild him, etc. I have a lot of fun ideas to play with.
When can we expect Book 2 to arrive?
Very VERY soon! It’s looking really good, I really can’t wait to announce it. I should be announcing it this month, actually. It’s a much bigger book, longer story, more character moments and development between father and son, more action, deadlier villains, etc. I’m going to be doing another Kickstarter for it, but like volume one, I’m waiting for the main story and production to be done (or near done) before I launch it, that way pledgers don’t have to wait too long and they can rest assured the book is actually completed for the most part.
Will we see more of the Mother Kingdom (first introduced in the prologue of Book 1) in Book 2?
We will see a bit more of it, but not too much. The villains for Volume 2 were sort of introduced in the prologue of Vol. 1 and we see a bit more of their place in the Mother Kingdom before they start terrorizing our world. I honestly can’t wait for you to see the Mother Kingdom pages though. They’re beautiful.
Any other upcoming projects for Webway comics or personal that you would like to mention?
Hmm. I have a few comics coming up, hopefully soon, I’m not too sure if I can make any types of announcements yet, but I’m very excited for it. There’s a joint project I’m doing with another Black indie creator, his company and Webway Comics coming together to do this story I had in the wood works since last year, I’m glad we’re finally moving forward with the production. But the best thing I can say is wait and see.
Is’Nana is a refreshing tale about wisdom, humanity, and heart. The telling of a traditional story in a new way. This original story is a breath of fresh air and what the comic book industry needs. I highly recommend Is’Nana the Were-Spider to fans of mythology, folklore and horror, or readers looking for something different than your typical superhero story.
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