Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Djeliya by Juni Ba

Djeliya Cover Art

Djeliya by Juni Ba
TKO Studios
Publication Date: July 7, 2021
ISBN: 9781952203244

In this West African-inspired fantasy epic, disgraced prince Mansour Keita seeks to reclaim his father’s throne in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by the wizard Soumaoro. With his djeli, Awa Kouyaté, to guide him, Mansour goes on a redemption quest, seeking to repair the world and recover his old kingdom. Their journey takes them on a weaving path, entwined with fantastical tales, peculiar characters, and explosive action.

Ba’s debut comic effectively mixes African and American influences to create a story that’s bubbling with energy, fun, and adventure. The art is crisp and impactful with bold black linework reminiscent of linocuts and panels saturated in striking reds, greens, and yellows (also the colors of the flag of Senegal). Speech bubbles and sound effects are thoughtfully integrated, each line vibrating with energy sometimes barely contained by the panel. Djeliya is a dynamic comic that takes pleasure in storytelling and invites readers to return to its pages again and again.

Readers looking for similarly detailed fantasy comics with immersive world building and fantastic art should look no further than Marjorie Liu’s Monstress, James Moffitt’s The Little Red Fish, Stan Stanley’s The Hazards of Love, Roye Okupe’s Malika: Warrior Queen, and Delilah S. Dawson’s Sparrowhawk. Animation fans may also want to check out the action-adventure Cartoon Network series Samurai Jack.

—Crystal Chen

Other Nominated Titles

  • Cheeky: A Head-to-Toe Memoir by Ariella Elovic (December 8, 2020)
  • The Curie Society by Heather Einhorn, Adam Staffaroni and Janet Harvey, Sonia Liao, and Joan Hilty (editor) (April 27, 2021)
  • I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (July 27, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.