One of the most notable techno and electro acts that came out of 1980s Detroit was James Stinson and Gerald Donald’s project Drexciya. Noted for being “more productive than many of their peers”, releasing scores of albums; the pace of their output steadily increased until Stinson’s death in 2002. Whilst many dates the full formation of Detroit electro in 1981 with Cybotron; Stinson and Donald are noted as inspiring Detroit electro’s next leap forward, “fusing it with wild strains of techno and outré experimental music”. The legacy of the Drexciya project cannot be understated and is now being honoured with its own graphic novel thanks to Abdul Qadim Haqq (aka Haqq and the Ancient) and Dai Satō (Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in a Shell: Stand Alone Complex).
Drexciya is a homonym. As established Drexciya is the name of a techno and electro act but also the name of the underwater country in the Atlantic populated by the unborn children of abandoned African women. The story of Drexciya predates 1980’s Detroit going back to 1553 where a slave ship heading to Brazil throws a heavily pregnant mother overboard. This mother dies giving birth and against the odds, her baby boy survives after being rescued by the Seven Sisters of the Abyss.
There is more to these seven sisters than meets the eye as they look evil, hideous, demonic and terrifying; yet they protect and nurture this very cute and adorable baby by encapsulating him in special bubbles allowing the child (who is named Drexaha) to adapt to the undersea world. The sisters then rescue over a dozen more unborn children (who made their way into the world the same way Drexaha did) and raise them in their caves called Ociya Syndor. These babies will grow up to be Drexciyans and Drexaha becomes the first king of the Drexciyans.
As the Drexciyans grow up and under Dr Blowfin’s careful guidance (who teaches the children arithmetic, biology and not forgetting, music) they go on adventures to help the Drexciyan people. The seven sisters help too by creating wormholes enabling faster travel across the sea. On their adventures, the Drexciyans face sea snakes, the menace of the Darthouven and slave ships.
As we ponder as to how people will enjoy live music in the foreseeable future the Drexciyans have their own quirky, unique and creative way of using bubbles as venues which gig-goers fly into. The Book of Drexciya: Volume One quickly leaps from 1553 to the 1990s where a massive Drexciyan empire has been built and is monitored through the Aquaban and its aqua wormhole gateways. The capital city is called the Bubble Metropolis.
Occasionally one feels as if the full potential of storyline plots sand sub-plots has not been realised. For example, owing to the history of the origins of the Drexciyans readers would be expecting to hear more about the adventures as to how “they liberated slaves from slave ships, defeated giant seas snakes…” and the details as to why “the intense battle lasts for hours” and a description of the battle itself. An explanation for this could be that the real in-depth adventures of the Drexciyans do not end here but begin in the Bubble Metropolis in the 1990s which this first volume preludes.
In spite of the seldom undeveloped storyboard, the adventures of the Drexciyans are immensely exciting, bold and justly stand proud amongst leading comic and graphic novel action-adventure series. The Book of Drexciya: Volume One provides a glorious legacy to James Stinson and Gerald Donald’s project Drexciya and will allow not just the rediscovery of the Drexciya projects’ music, but will also allow the Drexciya underwater country in the Atlantic to find a new lease of life through the format of the graphic novel.