I really liked this book.
I know, I know, I like a lot of books. What can I say, we’re living in a golden age of interesting indie titles and I am here for it. While Marvel descends into an ever more chaotic swirl of multiverse madness and DC attempts to replace every single title with Batman, independent comics are my one salvation.
And The Tiger’s Tongue was just so much fun to read.
As I have said before, one thing I look for more that anything else in an indie book is that it does something new. Call me jaded, but if I have to read one more superhero deconstruction I’m going to give up western comics all together, change my name to senpai12453 and just spend my days buried in Manga and arguing about if One Piece is better in sub or dub (the answer is dub. fight me).
But pulling me back from that surprisingly appealing brink are small publishers like Mad Cave Studios that continue to give a voice to new and exciting ideas and authors. I’ve previously talked about some great and innovative comics from this publisher before, so when I got the opportunity to check out their latest and greatest I was excited to see what they had in store.
Do I sound too much like a late night infomercial? Do they even have those anymore? Who cares! The Tiger’s Tongue was great and I am here for it!
So let’s dive into The Tiger’s Tongue #1 from MadCave and get ready for something new!
Here’s the blurb: Under the militant rule of The Tiger’s People, empowered by their animal familiars, the Claw is on the brink of war. At the precipice of adulthood, twin princesses Kelindi and Aridani hold the future of the Claw in their hands. Kelindi would sue for peace with The River’s People, those who were subjugated “to bring order,” while Aridani has never aspired to rule. But an ancient prophecy is revealed that’ll force fate’s hand for the sisters…
The Tiger’s Tongue succeeds right away in being something different. Western comics, more often than not, tend to be centered almost exclusively in the United States. Heck, it’s such an issue that Geoff Johns made it a centerpiece of his Watchman sequel.
And I get it, most comic buyers are American and want American heroes fighting in America, but there is a whole other world out there with an amazingly diverse history and heritage that is ripe for exploration and so much of that just gets left on the table by the big two.
TThe Tiger’s Tongue is set in Africa, in the mythical kingdom of the Claw, a land ruled over by the Tiger’s People, Africans with the power to speak to tigers, as well as control fire. For generations they have used that power to subjugate the people of the River, but that power has been waning over time and more and more talk of rebellion is in the air.
Our two leads, twin sisters who share parts of the power of the Tiger’s People, but not the whole power, are destined to fight for control of the throne, something that neither of them know about or even want.
As I said, I really liked this book. There is so much going on in The Tiger’s Tongue that I feel has amazing potential moving forward. This world feel unique, and yet also familiar. Family power struggles, possible rebellion, mystic powers, all comic readers will see things that they recognize, and yet it also has the wonderful bonus of being a work that does representation right, both on the page and behind it!
The author of The Tiger’s Tongue is Olivia Stephens, a graphic novelist, illustrator, and writer from the Pacific Northwest who is also a relative newcomer to the world of comics. Pulling from her bio: She earned her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. Olivia has created work for a number of sites and publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. Her debut graphic novel, ARTIE AND THE WOLF MOON, came out from Lerner Books in Fall 2021.
Stephen’s The Tiger’s Tongue is incredibly natural, with genuine emotional stakes and motivations behind her characters that engage the reader. The plot itself is interesting and unique in a lot of ways, and the decision to set it in Africa gives it a touch of magical realism that feel both exotic and familiar at the same time, something that is helped immensely by her artistic partner on this book, another relative newcomer Diansakhu Banton-Perry.
From Banton-Perry’s bio: She is a 2D Illustrator and Character Designer. She is a 2019 graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Communication Arts degree, with a focus in Concept Design. She creates characters for a variety of genres, but is mainly inspired by science fiction and fantasy.
That love of sci-fi and fantasy really comes across on the pages of , with interesting designs and approaches to the characters. I really enjoyed the quality of these layout and really look forward to seeing more from both women as they continue to work and create in this field. We need more diversity both on the page, and creating the page, and this book is another great step forward in that direction.
So if like me, you’re always hunting for something new and different and wonderful, give The Tiger’s Tongue a read!
Until next time, stay safe.