For years prior to his death, Will Eisner quietly built a library of full-color children's book adaptations. Drawn from mostly well-known material including The Princess and the Frog, The Last Knight and Moby Dick, these books have often been overshadowed by his more sophisticated work, but are really perfectly suited for their intended audience: children who are getting their first exposure to these classics.
SUNDIATA, the last of these works, is adapted from an African folktale loosely based upon a thirteenth century West African warrior who liberated his people from a merciless warlord. The story was recorded orally and was passed down from generation to generation to the point where there now exists countless versions, most of which are rooted in mysticism and magic. Eisner uses these legends as inspiration to craft his own version of the tale, creating a very novel little picture book.
I was first drawn to these adaptations out of a desire to marvel over Eisner -- one of the medium's most gifted cartoonists -- working in color again, but was immediately captivated by how he's able to render these expansive stories with such simplicity and charm -- a gift I find common to the best of children's authors. These are truly the types of comic books that you can read to your kids and, lord knows, we can never have enough of those.
Peter Aaron Rose is a writer, producer and technologist who lives and works in San Francisco, CA. Under the pseudonym "Peter Siegel", he recently authored Killing Demons, a graphic novel available from Engine Press and Platinum Studios.