African space opera, Yohancé pioneers a new movement in the sci-fi genre

Paul Louise-Julie’s new afro-futuristic graphic novel draws from ancient African aesthetics.

From the Series

In 2015, we watched as Nigerian-born singer Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor successfully introduced West African vernacular to the stage with her opera Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera. Now, we’re following New Jersey-based French-Caribbean artist Paul Louise-Julie and his new space opera graphic series, which is inspired by ancient African aesthetics.

The afro-futuristic graphic novel, called Yohancé, tells the story of an interstellar thief and draws from geo-political themes in African history as well as stories of iconic African figures such as Malian empire founder, Sundiata Keita and legendary monarch of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka Zulu.

In a recent interview with online publication io9, Louise-Julie explained that the negative reaction to actor John Boyega’s casting in the latest Star Wars film revealed a need for African subjects and themes in the space opera genre. The artist touched on the mammoth task of merging ancient African aesthetics with futuristic design elements:

“I’ve had to create detailed alien civilizations while varying degrees of technological advancement - all while maintaining the design root from real African cultures.”

After the success of his comic series The Pack, Louise-Julie’s followers are closely following the dedicated Yohancé Facebook page for updates. Book number one "The Ekangeni Crystal" is set to be released across various online applications early 2016.