Swag, the sequel.

It’s time to talk about comics again, folks.

I picked up the rest of Palmiotti and Linsner’s Claws series featuring Wolverine and the Black Cat. Love it. Love it. Words cannot describe how much I love it. I love it so much that I went out and bought it since Marvel doesn’t send the office review copies of its books. Linsner is a fabulous artist who totally brings a sexy playfulness to every page he draws and Palmiotti does a wonderful job of mixing action and humor. And hopefully, I did not butcher the spelling of either man’s name in this paragraph, because I am entirely too lazy to go and look either one up.

Also wonderful is Marguerite Abouet’s and Clement Oubrerie’s Aya from Drawn & Quarterly. Aya tells the story of a teenage girl and her two friends as they attempt to assert their independence and enjoy life in the working class neighborhood of Yopougon in 1978. I adore this book because it shows a side of Africa that Americans are rarely—no, make that never—allowed to see. Romantic, prosperous, humorous, light-hearted, hopeful, idealistic. How often do we get to see an African protagonist or community with those qualities? Hell, how often do we get to see an African protagonist or community at all?

It also reminds me just how universal these coming-of-age stories and young romantic tales are. I was pleased to see how Aya’s childhood and family life seemed to closely mirror my own. However, I was clearly born to a different culture and generation than the lead character.

Though Aya would feel at right at home on a bookshelf next to independent graphic novels such as Love & Rockets, it should also feel right at home on a shelf next to several manga titles geared towards young girls as well. However, the pessimist in me believes this book will never be placed there. Why? Because while young Americans have no problem accepting books containing a liberal dose of mainstream American and Japanese culture and images, what is black and what is African is still held up as an unwanted other in those circles. It is an ugly truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. So while the tales are so very similar, brown skin seems to make them all too different in the eyes of readers.

Though maybe, just maybe, the comics community will prove me wrong this time. And I will be all too pleased to be as wrong as can be.