Bayou Vol 1 by Jeremy Love

I don’t read many graphic novels, but after seeing reading wonderful reviews I couldn’t resist this one.

The heroine of the story is Lee, a young black girl living in Mississippi in the 1930’s. She lives with her father a sharecropper until the day when Lee’s white playmate  disappears in the Bayou. Lee’s father is accused and put in jail, and it’s up to Lee to find Lily and prove her father’s innocence.

The horrors Lee has to face are real, racism, hatred, lynchings, but they’re also mythical, magical. The monsters are real, some terrifying, some helpful. This is where, if I’m honest I kind of got lost in the swamp myself. Jeremy Love says in an interview that the story leaves the real world  and “we then move to the world of Dixie. Dixie is a strange Southern neverland that exists parallel to our own. The world was formed from the blood, war, and strife that plagued the South.” The characters are re-imagined images from the South like Cotton-Eyed Joe, Jim Crows that are downright scary birds, Jubal the Bloodhound on a horse, and Bayou himself, a giant creature who lives in a shack. I felt like I was set down in the middle of a fantasy land where I didn’t know the rules or characters. I found the mix of the realistic and fantastic confusing. I’m not sure why, usually I’m all for the combination, but in this case it left me feeling off-kilter. Of course, in the same interview he states one of the inspirations behind Bayou was Alice in Wonderland, a story I’m not too fond of.

Maybe it was in part to the artwork which added another dimension to the story, the visual aspect that is missing in novels. The story is very violent, which is to be expected based on the themes and the artwork is both beautiful and menacing, magical and frightening. The scenes of Lee swimming in the bayou are just eerie.

I can’t say I enjoyed reading this, but I am interested to see where it goes, to maybe get my bearings in Dixie. Lee is a brave girl, who I’m sure will be able to overcome obstacles she runs up against.

“How you get so brave, Miss Lee.”

“You say brave, my Daddy say I ain’t got not sense.”

“Well, Bayou wish he had it, whatever it be.”

“I wish I was strong like you. As long as we together I reckon you can do the totin’ and I’ll take care of the bravery.”

Bayou started out as a webcomic and can still be found here . This volume collect the first four chapters of the story, so there’s no resolution at the end. We just know that Lee and her sidekick Bayou are off on their adventure.

Published June 2, 2009 by Zuda
160 pages

Challenges: 100+, A to Z

I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.