- Mangaka : David Crownson (Story); Courtland L. Ellis, Joey Vazquez, Sylvain Repos, and others (Art)
- Publisher : Kingwood Comics
- Genre : Action, Supernatural, Historical
- Published : February 2022
You’ve likely heard the story of Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist who freed herself and over 70 others from slavery before the Civil War. But you’ve certainly never heard it like this! Indie comics creator David Crownson has teamed up with a bevy of talented artists to bring us his version of Tubman’s tale – one where her pursuers aren’t just dangerous because they’re armed... but because they’re vampires, werewolves, and demons! Here’s our review of Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer, Volume 1.
It’s 1860, and on a plantation in South Carolina, a family flees in the dead of night from their master’s house. The escape seems to be going well; even when a group of slavecatchers appears from behind the trees, the mother and father are prepared with guns and quickly shoot them down. But when the men slowly get back up and their eyes start to glow red, it’s up to Harriet Tubman to swoop in and save the day! Dual-wielding silver katanas and whipping wooden stakes from her sleeves, the petite woman expertly dispatches the vampires and wins the trust of her rescuees. And so begins a journey towards freedom, although with the amount of paranormals on the group’s trail growing every day, it won’t be an easy one...
Based on that summary, you may think that this graphic novel is just a gimmicky mashup of “cool” concepts thrown together to trick you into caring about history, but it’s actually executed very well. It’s certainly exciting to see the action scenes, some of which feel like they’re straight out of a shounen anime, but equal attention is given to quiet character moments and worldbuilding as well. Even if you picked up the book to see Harriet Tubman slice up vampires while spouting off icy one-liners (like we did), you won’t be able to help yourself from being drawn in by the father’s doofy earnestness or the society of monsters living just beneath the gaze of normal citizens. We definitely want to see more of this world!
1. Real History... Plus Vampires
Other than the supernatural elements, Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer is more historically accurate than you might realize. The real Tubman carried a gun that she wasn’t afraid to threaten people with, and she was even a spy and led an armed assault during the Civil War. After a head injury when she was young, she frequently spoke of visions from God that are worked into this story as premonitions of the future, and the $40,000 reward issued by the paranormals for her capture is based on a legend of how much slaveholders were willing to pay to get her back. There’s a reason why Harriet Tubman saved so many people, and it’s not because she was some demure lady. To be honest, this is probably the best way to portray her badassery for a modern audience!
2. Amazing Art from Multiple Creators
Although this first volume only had its physical release last February, the series has actually been going since 2017 through individual issues that were released digitally to Kickstarter backers. Perhaps because of this, the chapters are drawn by different artists – each with their own unique style. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but the styles aren’t so disparate that you’ll lose track of what you’re looking at, and seeing each artist’s interpretation of the characters and their monstrous enemies is fascinating. We particularly love Chapter 2, drawn by Joey Vazquez, for its bold lines and dynamic composition. And if you want even more iterations on the story’s concept, the last section of the book is filled with variant covers from all kinds of different comic creators.
Because this physical release was self-published, there are a few printing issues like one or two repeated pages and some blurriness in places, but the paper quality is solid and the colors are strikingly vibrant. Hopefully Vol. 2 is even better!
In the back of the book, author David Crownson is quoted as saying, “I just wanted to make a comic about Harriet Tubman killing racists ‘n’ shit.” And that’s exactly what he’s done, even more spectacularly than we could’ve imagined. The book expertly blends over-the-top anime-style fight scenes with real human drama to show how incredible Tubman actually was in so many aspects of her life. And if you’d like to see more, be sure to support Crownson’s work by visiting https://kingwoodcomics.com/!
What did you think of our article? Will you be picking up a copy of Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!