Graphic novels about a city in the Ivory Coast in the 1970’s are not a regular occurrence and Aya of Yop City is a shining example of how versatile the graphic novel format can be. The story itself is not about Aya who is pretty dull, but about the antics of her friends and family in the community of Yop City. Abouet’s writing really shines in the quickness and wit of the dialogue mixing familiar African inflections with a uniquely Ivorian sense of humour that can make light of most serious matters. Oubrerie’s illustrations move easily between conveying the basic caricatures of the characters emotions to more vivid realistic sketches that set tone and show a blossoming, vibrant city.
At times Aya can come across as a soap opera, the characters can be as two dimensional as they are drawn – easily placed into boxes like; the skirt chaser, the tough father and the boy crazy girl. However this can also be a good thing since it ensures that there is never a dull moment. By the end of the novel I wanted to know more about the characters, what they would do next, how the wit and voices Abouet gave them will defy the way they have been drawn. Instead I got an Ivorian bonus which included a recipe of Chicken Kedjenou, a guide on how to use a wrapper (pagne) to carry your baby on your back and an interview with Abouet herself – all of which gave great insight into the Ivory Coast and its culture. Luckily there is more, Aya of Yop City is the second in a trio of graphic novels and the latest chapter Aya: The Secrets Come Out is out now.
Posted: Tuesday 6th October 2009 2:50 am
Tags: Black Writing & Poetry