Graphic Novel Review: Bayou Vol. 1

Your friend has been swallowed whole by a strange creature and any minute now your father will be killed by an angry lynch mob. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.

We definitely aren’t in Kansas. We’re in 1930’s Mississippi and Lee Wagstaff has significantly more fortitude than Dorothy Gale ever had. In Jeremy Love’s Bayou – Volume One, she braves the reality of a world rampant with racism and the absurdity of an alternate world teaming with untold dangers. Don’t expect to find any singing munchkins here; leave your ruby red slippers at the door and get ready to fight for your life.

The first indication Bayou is anything other than a genuine look at the horrors of bigotry in the south happens fairly early in the tale. Lee is drafted to secure the body of an African American boy who was killed for whistling at a white woman. Her father Calvin was paid to do it but was too large to fit where the body had rested at the bottom of the bayou. While in it’s murky waters Lee sees a vision of what she assumes is the boy’s spirit but will turn out to be just the tip of the rather large iceberg awaiting her discovery. Lee and her father lead a meager but happy existence until her best friend, a young white girl named Lily, accuses Lee of stealing her necklace to avoid a beating from her own, vicious mother. Lee’s smart enough to keep clear of her after that but Lily isn’t smart enough to keep clear of the bayou. When she disappears it’s Calvin who stands accused with little hope of proving his innocence seeing as how a giant man swallowed her up.

Armed with few provisions and an old family ax, Lee braves the shores of the bayou once again in hopes of finding the strange man who took Lily and clear her father’s name. When she awakens on the other side another giant man greets her, this time of the friendly persuasion. His name happens to be Bayou and he becomes a sort of father figure to her on this journey, warning her of certain dangers and helping when she gets in a jam. Bayou’s boss, a shape shifter, won’t be happy about that, especially when Lee declares all-out war against him. Sadly it’s not only Lee’s father that has a corresponding character in this alternate world – the lynch mob has followed as well. But there might be one person who can help. Are they off to see the Wizard? No, they’re off to see the Rabbit.

Although the story parallels many classic other worldly tales such as The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, Bayou is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Jeremy Love is equally brilliant and brutal when it comes to depicting the unforgiving 1930’s Mississippi and all the horrors that came along with it. The environment, the language and the attitudes are all true to life and that much scarier for it. Love’s art, though perfectly adapted for the time and locations, could be much tighter. Deliberate or not, some pencils have remained on the finished page and faces with great detail and expression one panel, lose a mouth, nose or eyes in the next. However, the alternate world creatures and a brief history lesson stand out as highlights. The printing process leaves something to be desired unfortunately. The pages, from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, have an almost newspaper-like quality and leave the once bold colors of the web comic looking drab and much too dark in comparison. Regardless, Bayou is a strikingly different take on your average fantasy or folk story that will assuredly leave the reader with something to think about.

Bayou – Volume One is on sale now and the story in it’s original web comic format can be found at

You can also view and discuss this review at the Girls Entertainment Network.

One Response to “Graphic Novel Review: Bayou Vol. 1”

  1. greyman24 says:

    I LOVE this comic.

    It's filled with amazing turns and truly interesting commentary. My wife's family comes from Mississippi during this time period, and I can see the reflection of her grandmother's stories in Jeremy Love's narrative.