The Elements: Fire graphic novel anthology, created by Eisner-nominated artist, writer and editor Taneka Stotts and her company Beyond Press successfully funded via a kickstarter campaign last year. The purpose of the anthology was to showcases the talents of 32 different artists and writers of creators of color. In fact, the majority of Elements: Fire was written, drawn and lettered by women of color and every story depicts the element of Fire in different ways.
There are no “caped crusaders” within these pages, this is truly a graphic novel. The book is full of magic and wonderful stories of powerful heroines, beautiful witches, dystopian futures and mythical pasts. It is an exceptional cross between an comic book and an illustrated book of fables. Just like most tall tales there are morals to every story. Such as making peace after war, living in harmony with nature, and freeing oneself from bondage, mentally, physically and even nuptially.
Each comic in the anthology is a only a few pages, however, these artists have managed to put drama, comedy and triumph into almost every single page. In Too hot to Be Cool by Maddi Gonzalez, an adorable girl who happens to be the daughter of a witch, plays with one of her mother’s firestones when things go awry. Pass the Fire by Taneeka Stotts, Mildred Louis and Melanie Ujimori is about a dystopian future where solar flares affected the atmosphere, or so they were told. One woman (operative) is on a mission to find out the truth. Cactus Flower by Sara Duvall a story about a modern-day alchemist who brings back her deceased best friend, who also happens to be a dog. From Ashes we Heal by Kou Chen is about two leaders who unite two warring countries in the aftermath of war. A Burner of Sins by JY Yang, Yasmin Liang, Chan Chau and Melanie Ujimori, about a transgendered woman who wishes to remove her guilt and follows the Japanese spiritual concept of the red string, with a new twist. Thrustfall byJames F. Wright and Rashad Doucet takes place the day of final testing at a magical school where student’s flying skills are evaluated. A little boy faces his fears and somehow taps the magic within him to do much more. (I want to read more of this story!)
Firelily by Myisha Haynes is about a girl on the quest for the perfect mystical birthday gift, who ends up finding it and someone else, in her heart. Pulse by Der-Shing Helmer deals with the concept of tampering with other cultures for personal gain. When a scientist reaches a planet to install a device so that she and other scientists can study it, the sentient planet has other plans. Preta by Chloe Chan and Nina Matsumoto is the closest to a manga in the book. In a world where most humans are cybernetically enhanced one human woman w/o enhancements is forced to make a choice. (This one reminded me a lot of Togusa from the Ghost in the Shell series.) In Firestorm byMelanie Ujimari, andChan Chau a category 2 hurricane is headed to shore and a girl’s father is boarding windows making preparations. Unafraid, she decides to confront the storm goddess herself.
The Update by Christina “Steenz” Stewart is about a girl living in a technical futuristic society who wakes up one day to find her roommate missing. Or is she? (If you like Black Mirror you’ll LOVE this one!) Some of the most striking artwork can be found in Breath, Plucked from Heaven by Shivana Sookdeo, Under the Flamboyan by Tristan J. Tarwater and Michelle Nguyen and Muros by Genué Reveuelta.
Elements: Fire is truly a beautiful book. And at 272 pages, I can assure you I’ve only shared a fraction of the stories and creators. Not only are the stories compelling, but the red white and black color scheme that is carried throughout the book not only gives it a cohesive one-of-a-kind look. I am often told whenever I question the lack of people of color in comics or more specifically, am seeking out the stories of women of color, “Why don’t you people just make your own.” Well, Taneka Stotts did.
And it is gorgeous.
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ELEMENTS: FIRE – $12