Chioma, a young Nigerian American woman visiting her family in Nigeria, opens her door for a young boy in After the Rain, and that fateful event sets the stage for a disturbing, horrific ordeal that tests her sanity and well being.
Chioma tries to help the young boy with a gaping head wound, but cries out in pain when she touches him. It is clear in subsequent days that something from the boy infected Chioma as she struggles to contain the uneasy feeling she is left with. She starts to hear noises and see strange disturbing visions as local lizards invade her family home. But is she the only one who can hear these sounds and see the visions? What follows is an eerie mix of ancient Nigerian spirits, body horror, and guilt associated with Chioma’s actions in America both before and after she became a police officer. Chioma is tested and brought to the edge of her sanity.
Based on a short story called, “On the Road” by Nnedi Okorafor, author John Jennings ably adapts the short story to graphic novel form. The original story is quite short, but Jennings and his artist, David Brame, add depth and many visual details that are not evident in the short story. Chioma’s nightmare is vividly brought to life in ways the text cannot convey. Brame effectively portrays Chioma’s horror with the expressions in her mouth and eyes. His fluid art style with heavy lines lends to the unsettled, mystical nature of the whole story. Some panels cease being solid lines as the dark power of the ancients overwhelms the story and the regular panel grid. The full color palette used here effectively draws the reader in, particularly when depicting colorful lizards and spirits. There are occasional moments when Chioma is in action or running that a more realistic style would have helped, but overall, the art effectively tells this story. Warning: the body horror depicted in this graphic story is unsettling, more so than in the short story.
Jennings has picked an interesting tale to kick off his Megascope imprint with Abrams Publishing in After the Rain. I’m definitely looking forward to the other books coming soon in this imprint. It’s also a good way to introduce readers to Okorafor’s writing if they aren’t familiar with it. I sought out her short story collection called Kabu Kabu and found several interesting stories along with ‘On the Road’. Most public libraries with adult graphic novel collections will want to get this story. Many university libraries may well want it as well. Okorafor fans will want to take a look at this adaptation and make their own comparisons.
After the Rain
By Nnedi Okorafor John Jennings
Art by David Brame
Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Character Traits: Nigerien-American
Creator Highlights: Nigerien-American
Related to…: Book to Comic