After the Rain
Comics & Graphic Novels
October 27, 2020
"During a furious storm a young woman's destiny is revealed . . . and her life is changed forever After the Rain is a graphic novel adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor's short story "On the Road." The drama takes place in a small Nigerian town during a violent and unexpected storm. A Nigerian-American woman named Chioma answers a knock at her door and is horrified to see a boy with a severe head wound standing at her doorstep. He reaches for her, and his touch burns like fire. Something is very wrong. Haunted and hunted, Chioma must embrace her heritage in order to survive. John Jennings and David Brame's graphic novel collaboration uses bold art and colors to powerfully tell this tale of identity and destiny." Publisher
After the Rain is a graphic adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “On the Road” which appeared in her collection of short stories, Kabu Kabu in 2013. Nnedi Okorafor is a science fiction writer who has written several novels and Children’s books including comics such as LaGauardia and Black Panther: Long Live the King. In this engaging graphic novel, the protagonist Chioma, born in the United States of America visits her grandmother and her aunt Amaka, in Nigeria for a brief period. While there, she is exposed to a dark secret that changes her life after a heavy rainfall. This evocative novel takes the reader through Chioma’s life experience by exposing the themes of family secret, search for identity, and African futurism. It is only when Chioma embraces her heritage that she survives the traumatic exposure to her past and ancestors.
The book opens with illustrations of heavy rain, sparks of thunder, street flooding, and someone walking towards a house. It is under the quietness of the night that Chioma opens the door on hearing a knock and sees a boy badly injured. Because she is a police detective and not used to being scared, she quickly asks the boy if he needs help, but he responds, “Me and You” (12), giving a hint that there is something more to the boy’s appearance. Chioma tries to reach the boy, but he taps her right hand sending some shock waves to her body which pulls her down with a crash. Her grandmother rushes to her room to enquire what is happening, but the boy disappears without a trace. The boy’s touch sets Chioma off to search for her identity without being aware of what she is doing.
Aspects of Nigerian culture are evident throughout the novel. The reader notices that Chioma travels during “Harmatan” which is the cold season in Nigeria and the weather becomes colder when it rains. Many people travel to the villages at this time to enjoy the Christmas and New year holidays, and other traditional festivals are celebrated during this season. Igbo people like to celebrate with food and palm wine, and it is an opportunity for the business people to make money, therefore the market, being the center for most activities, is full of traders and customers shopping and socializing with each other as illustrated in the book. The Masquerade or Mmuo (Spirits) festival is one of the largest festivals celebrated by the Igbos; therefore, people travel to the villages to watch and participate. It is a huge celebration in different parts of Igbo land and the Mmuo comes in different shapes and sizes. Different ritual ceremonies are also celebrated during this season and only the chosen or the initiated are privileged to know what goes on.
The beauty of this graphic comic is seen in the memorable characters and illustrations just like the graphic novel Threads from the Refugee Crisis written by Kate Evans. Nnedi Okorafor is a seasoned writer and storyteller. Her weaving Igbo traditional culture and norms into this story helps to create memorable characters. This graphic work is exceptional and fits well into the comic as presented by David Brame. This powerful illustration of African futuristic comics is highly recommended for teenagers and lovers of comic books. It is a novel that will be remembered by readers for a long time and deserves a 5-Star rating.
Reviewer: Blessing Diala-Ogamba, Ph.D. Coppin State University
Published in Africa Access Review (June 24, 2021)
Copyright 2021 Africa Access
Nnedi Okorafor and John Jennings have created a graphic novel addressing spiritualism of Igbo in eastern Nigeria. Following a rain storm, Chioma comes in contact with a young boy who opens up a world of fantasy. Chioma struggles with the spirits both physically and mentally. Her grandmother and great aunt cannot protect her although they recognize what is happening to her. She struggles with multiple situations such as amputation, fire, sculls, monsters and lizards. She fights to protect herself against all odds. Her experience is similar to a traditional rite of passage where an individual is tested by society. In the United States, she is a “cop.” She was tested numerous times. Upon her return home, she feels accepted in Nigeria and the United States and able to deal with each societies threats. Even though she is an adult, she has much to learn about herself and her ancestors.
The choice of colors and the images of the graphic lend themselves to the fantasy. Purple and red highlights the thunder storm and spookiness of the text. Some of the images are reminiscent of Igbo masks worn typically by disciplinarians. The shadows on the wall only emphasize the threat to her life. The end-pages contain various designs in black and white.