Ivory Coast–born Abouet (Aya, 2007, for adults) dishes out bursts of simultaneous hilarity and horror in African vignettes aimed at a younger audience.
All seven episodes feature young Akissi and her brother Fofana or her friends getting into trouble for less-than-exemplary (to say the least) behavior. In “Good Mums,” for instance, she borrows a neighbor’s baby and tenderly feeds it a stew concocted from discarded scraps found in the market. “Home Cinema” has her playing lookout while Fofana sells spots in front of the television set to neighborhood children. She loses a fish to an opportunistic stray in “Cat Invasion.” And in “Football Match,” she kicks a soccer ball over a wall belonging to a surly hunchback and draws the (to her) logical conclusion: “He had swallowed it!” Framed in cleanly drawn, easy-to-read sequential panels, the art sets dialogue balloons and cartoon figures dressed in a casual mix of Western and traditional garb in an unpaved but well-kept urban neighborhood. Following the spectacularly gross “Tapeworm,” an equally (but for different reasons) delicious recipe for “Coconut Goat’s Droppings” caps this memorable introduction to a character whose further misadventures, already available in France, can’t make their way across the pond quickly enough.
Strong stomachs are a prerequisite. Even the strongest will be left both queasy and sore from laughter. (Graphic short stories. 7-10)