“Devour” merges West African legend with modern Southern horror in a graphic novel by Jazmine Joyner, illustrated by Anthony Pugh. When the Turner family relocates to Alabama to care for their ailing grandmother, Vassie, they unearth a chilling truth: Vassie is a descendant of powerful root women, and an ancient evil, the Ghanaian spider god Anansi, is consuming her memories. As Patsy, the eldest daughter, delves into her family’s past, she must confront Anansi to save her grandmother and their ancestral legacy. This terrifying fable blends thrills with cultural exploration, offering a spine-tingling journey through folklore and family history.


Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Devour” and how you came up with the concept?

The concept of Devour came about from a question John Jennings asked me, “What if Anansi went mad?” From there I kept thinking about that question and eventually wrote a short story (which became the opening flashback from Otis in the graphic novel) from there I just kept exploring the Turner family lore and it eventually morphed into the Graphic Novel it is now.

What drew you to explore the West African legend of Anansi the Spider in your graphic novel?

Just that question from John and my interest in learning more about West African Gods.

How did you approach blending horror elements with the cultural and mythical aspects of the story?

I let the culture aspects and myths be the focus of the story. I wanted the reader to care about the Turners and Anansi. I wanted the reader to feel like they had a grasp of the world around them and then towards the end watch that world unravel. Most of the horror in Devour is at the end of the book. I like to play with the readers anticipation. Build an anxiety throughout the story that really isn’t fulfilled until the last minute.

“Devour” deals with themes of family, legacy, and cultural heritage. How did you navigate these themes throughout the narrative?

Patsy’s family and the Turner’s legacy were interesting to navigate. I wanted Patsy to feel like a real person a girl who is just thrusted into a new place and has all of these expectations pushed on her. But Patsy was someone before she had to take on the guard, she is a teenager first and foremost. I tried to take all of that into account for all the characters in the book. They are people first, with wants and dreams. That includes Anansi.

Anansi’s character is both fascinating and terrifying. How did you approach depicting this mythical figure in your graphic novel?

Anansi is a tragic figure. He is a trickster god who just wanted to go on an adventure. But things went terribly wrong. He wanted to help take the pain away from his people and absorbing all that pain slowly drove him insane. I wanted him to seem omnipresent and larger than life, but also small and fragile. He can break at any time. I think that aspect is what made him scary to me.

How did you ensure sensitivity and accuracy in portraying certain aspects of the story?

I did a lot of hoodoo and rootwork research. I read a lot of west African tales and tried hard to show respect to all those aspects in my writing.

Family dynamics play a significant role in the Turner family’s journey. How did you develop these relationships, especially considering the supernatural elements at play?

I just thought about my own family dynamics. The relationship I have with my mother, and my siblings played a big role on how I wrote the quieter moments in this book. I love writing dialogue; I feel like you can learn a lot from a character from how they interact with one another.

The graphic novel format allows for unique storytelling opportunities. How did you and illustrator Anthony Pugh collaborate to bring “Devour” to life visually?

When I wrote the script for Devour, I made sure to leave the scene descriptions very sparce. I would explain what room they were in and who was there and left the rest to Anthony’s imagination. I didn’t want to hinder anything Anthony would want to depict on the page. I also attached photo references to any specific references within the script. I made Anthony a Hoodoo 101 PDF so he had a reference of items he could place in the backgrounds of scenes. I also made a Pinterest board and a movie list. Just so he could have as much visual inspiration as possible.

“Devour” is described as a dark retelling. How did you approach reimagining the Anansi legend while staying true to its essence?

I focused on Anansi’s love of stories. What would happen if all the stories he collected were dark and awful experiences of enslaved people? What would that do to him? And I focused on those questions.

What challenges did you encounter while writing “Devour,” and how did you overcome them?

As a chronically ill person I experienced a lot of health issues during the time I was writing this book. I survived them and was able to stick to my writing schedule which is great.

How do you think readers will respond to the blend of horror, mythology, and family drama in your graphic novel?

I hope readers like the book and respond well to it. I hope the book being horror doesn’t deter readers, and they enjoy the characters and the story.

Can you speak to any specific research you conducted or cultural consultants you worked with to ensure authenticity in portraying West African culture and mythology?

I worked hard to be respectful of West African Culture and Mythology in my telling of Devour. I read a lot of texts for research on this book, to list a few;

Are there any particular scenes or moments in “Devour” that you found particularly challenging or rewarding to write?

There were many scenes near the end that I had a hard time depicting. But I don’t want to spoil anything.

Could you share some insights into your journey within the publishing industry, particularly as a Black, disabled, nonbinary femme? Have there been specific challenges you’ve encountered along the way?

I have been an Editor within the publishing industry for 7 years now and I have experienced a lot of racism, ableism, and homophobia. That famous quote, “Comics Will Break Your Heart” is 100% true, but it is also full of wonderful people that make creating and editing worthwhile.

I now try to work with people who inspire me in various ways. People who love the collaborative nature of comics, and want to celebrate POC, disabled, and queer voices.

What’s next for you after “Devour”? Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I have a few things in the works but sadly I can’t talk about them yet!