The Bone Herder is an Afropunk/Afrofuturistic fantasy horror comic written by Zaire Lanier with art by Swordsfall Universe's Tumo Mere and Morgan Madeline. The creators intended to create a graphic novel that puts black characters at the centre of the story, Zaire stating "often people of color are left out of fantasy worlds or forced into stereotypical roles. I'm not alone in my desire to see settings that extend beyond the familiarity of typical western stories."
The graphic novel tells a story that "every generation, a child is chosen to travel from village to village punishing wrongdoers, by flaying their bones and burying them. Cass is the first to break the tradition, but in doing so breaks an ancient pact with the Flesh Folk."
The Bone Herder takes place in the mythical country of Koatrom and is inspired by pre-colonial Africa and Afropunk aesthetics. Why Afropunk? It is a battle cry against the norm and a baseline for something different. It isn't easily defined. Fantasy has been built on the shoulders of the Western ideals. While I enjoy it, it does have its issues, prejudices, and hurtful stereotypes.
This is why I am creating the world of The Bone Herder. It is for people, like me, that want to a reflection of themselves in the media they consume. My family tree and genealogy have no known origin. Africa is the framework for my existence and I feel an attachment and at times even a hole for a motherland I never knew. I imagine worlds and stories they might have once been a part of many, many years ago.
I based the world around ancient African cities like Carthage and Kush. The ancient cities of Africa are a rich and diverse world. I have created my own mythos surrounding the mysterious and ancient Flesh Folk.
While this story is a fantasy horror comic, I want to portray a strong and loving Black family. Cass's family will come strongly into play and we will see the impact that they have on her personhood as the story progresses.
Zaire Lanier cites Gail Simone's Comic School project on Twitter as something that "gave me the confidence to go forward with my idea." The graphic novel is being funded on Kickstarter, with a month to go after raising $42,000 against a goal of $5.000 and is moving into a number of stretch goals that are adding to the Bone Herder world. You can see script pages, character breakdowns and more artwork right there.