JAJ: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Hardcover – Douglas & MacIntyre – Sep 2023 – 116 pages
With gorgeous imagery, visual artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas brings to life the tumultuous history of first contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples and the early colonization by the Europeans of the northern West Coast.
Yahgulanaas uses a blend of traditional and modern art, eschewing the traditional boxes of comic books for the flowing shapes of North Pacific iconography. The panels are filled with colourful and expressive watercolour paintings. The panels of each page, if removed and assembled into one whole image, form a large image reminiscent of a woven robe.
The story follows several historical figures, including Johan Adrian Jacobsen (JAJ), who comes to the Haida village of Masset to collect specimens for a German museum, through a time span that includes first contact, the devastation of the smallpox epidemic, and the mass resettlement of disenfranchised peoples, both Indigenous and European.