Jemiro: The New Afrofuturism Title on the Zebra Comics App and Website


If you are a fan of African comics, then you should be excited: Zebra Comics just released its new Afrofuturism and fantasy title called JEMIRO. As popular as Afrofuturism is, there aren’t enough comics based on this genre from the African continent. African creators are very interested in fantasy, sci-fi, politics, slice of life, thrillers and romance, but not many are producing Afrofuturistic stories for African readers. Created by Ejob Nathanael, written by Franklin Agogho and illustrated by Bryan Bantar, JEMIRO is therefore a breath of fresh air in a space where there is so much potential for awesome Afrofuturistic stories. As a reminder, Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and history that explores the intersection of the African diaspora culture with science and technology. It addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through technoculture and speculative fiction, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afro-diasporic experiences. It comprises cultural production and scholarly thought—literature, visual art, photography, film, multimedia art, performance art, music, and theory—that imagine greater justice and a freer expression of black subjectivity in the future or in alternative places, times, or realities. It also offers speculation about a world wherein black people are normative. Afrofuturism can also imagine dystopian worlds to come, with contemporary injustices projected into, and often intensified in, the future. While Afrofuturism is most commonly associated with science fiction, it can also encompass other speculative genres such as fantasy, alternate history, and magical realism. Afrofuturism is therefore a very important genre in artistic creation. This brings us to the question: how is Jemiro Afrofuturism and what is it all about?


Page 2 of JEMIRO by Zebra Comics on the Zebra Comics Blog

For starters, the title JEMIRO was taken from the Amharic word “Jemiri” which means “begin.” The story of JEMIRO is therefore based on the notion of beginnings. The events in this story take place one million years ago and during this time, a planet called Wongan is dying. A geological phenomena where the planet’s sun is pulling the planet to itself is occurring and its occupants have no choice but to leave. The issue, however, is that they do not have the technology to evacuate the eight hundred million inhabitants of the planet, thereby forcing them to send just two people (Tai and Nika) who will ensure the continuity of their race. With just a glimpse of the new world where these two will land, Tai and Nika are therefore sent off into deep space. Their journey brings them to our planet, Earth, in the era of pangaea. Tai and Nika will therefore have to survive this new world which is inhabited by humanoids who look very much like the envoys from Wongan and who are in the middle of a crisis caused by the disappearance of a very valuable resource called Milk Rain.


As already mentioned above, the events of this story take place in two principal locations: the planet called Wongan and our dear planet, Earth. Wongan is the representation of technological marvel. The advances in transport, computing, security and medicine are clearly evident when one looks at the beautiful illustrations of this comic. The system of government is also sophisticated, making it the adequate source of conflict that is prominent in the story. Wongan is a technological marvel but, like Earth, it is a place of class distinction: the haves and the have nots live in two different worlds. Made predominantly of hills and mountains, Wongan presents a unique setting where science, politics and fantasy play in tense and exciting ways. All of this is spiced with the noticeable presence of African-inspired architecture, clothing, weaponry and traditions, making it Afrofuturistic. On the other hand, our planet Earth in this story takes us back to a million years in the past. To make things fresh, Jemiro presents a version of earth that is inhabited by beings who look very much like humans (with minor differences), who live in African inspired houses and who practice cultures that are very traditionally African. This therefore makes the newcomers from Wongan to look more human than the human beings on earth, putting an interesting spin on the origins of mankind.


Deaconess Tomaino from Jemiro on the Zebra Comics Blog

 Jemiro packs a long list of very interesting characters. The main characters in the story are Deaconess Tomaino, Tai, Nika and Bram. Each character is developed in such a way that their arcs bring so much to the overall story. Deaconess Tomaino is the ruler of Wongan who has to deal with the difficult situation of saving her people by letting almost all of them die. Tai is a recalcitrant wannabe superstar who is forced to embark on the journey to Jemiro for the sake of the survival of his race. Nika is a quiet and nerdy scientist who is also obliged to go on the journey to earth with Tai and become his partner, even if she is not in love with him. Bram is a poor farmer whose son is dying and who will do anything, even defying order, to save his son. The characters in this story are so dynamic and their arcs fit very well into the entire story, making it a must read.


At the base, Jemiro is a science fiction and fantasy story and many of the tropes you will find in stories of these genres are present. High tech, political intrigue, mythical creatures, magic, stylized costuming and strong dialogue are all present in this story. The story particularly shines when it comes to the interactions between characters. Dialogue is crisp and crafted in such a way that character traits shine very brightly. Jemiro, therefore, is not just beautiful to look at, but it is also interesting to read.


Like many Afrofuturistic comics and graphic novels out there, Jemiro presents a futuristic and fantasy world where people of African descent are fighting to change their fates within a difficult world. This foundation is made rich by a great story, beautiful settings, intriguing characters and posh style which naturally makes for a great read. Jemiro is truly a breath of fresh air in the afrofuturism comics space. You can read Jemiro now on the Zebra Comics App and Website.

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