Kayin and Abeni: A Graphic Novel Gone Too Soon

February 28, 20184 min read

Beautiful, brilliant, fun, game-changing, provocative, unstoppable, very promising, short – words that describe the lifespan of Kayin and Abeni, an African comic that was fast becoming my absolute favourite.

This is what he sent:

Hello dear readers! I bring news! The bad news is: there isn’t gonna be a Kayin and Abeni issue for the foreseeable future. The good news is: I have a good reason!

Many of you have asked me about a physical release of Kayin and Abeni. This series was mostly meant as a way for a young creator to get some exposure, training, and support. However, it attracted the attention of eyes I didn’t expect to.

I was approached recently by a publisher, to create and publish my own work with them, using what I learned in Kayin and Abeni, and pushing it even further. I will provide you with more information if this project pans out, but if it does, it could mean :

  • Physical books to put on your shelf
  • A whole new series using African influences and a similar aesthetic as Kayin and Abeni

To properly work on this project, I need time and have to shelf Kayin and Abeni for the time being.

He goes on to include a sketch of what he’s shelving Kayin and Abeni for, and mentions his other comic, The Unlikely Story of Felix and Macabber and then caps it off with a happy 2018.

Character design sheet by Juni Ba to replace Kayin and Abeni
Character designs for an unnamed project by Juni Ba

I should have seen it coming. First, Keenan Kornegay writer of the first issue moved away from the project to concentrate on other things. Then there’s the fact that Juni Ba is working on 3 different projects simultaneously.

This reminds me a little of myself and everyone else hustling several jobs/projects in life. It’s incredibly hard for me to juggle my 9 – 5, Squid Mag plus other projects I’m working on. Time is an ice cold and impartial queen who cares nothing about your needs and certainly doesn’t favour you. Instead, she forces you to innovate, to prioritise and you’ll be damned if you think she has time for your indiscipline and zero focus.

Cover of Kayin and Abeni Issue 2 by Juni Ba

Lastly, Juni Ba was going all in, full steam ahead. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, it showed Juni’s prowess which I’m confident led to his being approached by a publisher. Who doesn’t love a talented artist who can deliver as quickly and efficiently as possible?!

This brings up an exciting possibility: how long before African comic publishers have their works adapted in other forms? And yes, I am hinting at the big screen. Five, maybe ten or perhaps another lifetime? Who knows?

Also, imagine all the merchandise Kayin and Abeni could have would have produced!

I am deeply saddened by the discontinuation of Kayin and Abeni. However, I am hopeful that the bold aesthetic and the masterful reimagination of African culture inspires even more creatives. I hope other artists are inspired to go outside the box, let loose and create an aesthetic so audacious, you can’t help but fall in love.

On the other hand, I’m excited to see what Juni Ba creates next. Judging from the image he attached, his next project will be a harmonious marriage of African culture and technology, just like the Balafon in his illustration. How cool is it to attach a mixer to a Balafon (a type of wooden xylophone).

Goodbye Kayin and Abeni. ? ☹️

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