I read Bayou Vol. 1 while it was still available online via Zuda comics and was blown away.
This is the story of Lee Wagstaff, a little African-American girl living in the South in the 30′s. This alternate reality South is populated not only by the real people and tensions of our world, but by the gods and monsters bred by them. After Lee’s friend, Lily, a little white girl, goes missing and Lee’s father is wrongly beaten and imprisoned for it, she goes on a quest to save him. For Lee knows a secret… it wasn’t her father who stole away Lily, it was the spirits of the Otherworld who inhabit the nearby swamp that took her away.
And so little Lee Wagstaff heads into the frightening unknown world of the bayou, where she meets a staunch friend and ally, the gentle giant named after the Bayou itself and, like Alice, she goes through the looking glass into a world both like and unlike her own.
The art is beautiful and moving and the story is a powerful one that pulls no punches when dealing with the realty of racism and hatred in the South. This realism is expertly mixed with the magical Otherworld in a way I’ve only ever seen equaled by Sean Stewart. The danger of magic and the high cost of dealing with it are effectively portrayed and the nightmares spawned by the hatred of the landscape are only equaled by the pathos of some of the Otherworld creatures, like simple Bayou himself or the spirit of Lee’s lynched friend Billy Glass.
Lee’s adventures soon go off track, as they are wont to when we cross the border between the real and the unreal, and she soon finds herself entangled in the politics and machinations of the bayou, a world no less complex and dangerous, than her own.
I highly recommend checking out Bayou Vol. 1 and hope to track down the other volumes of Lee’s story soon.