Etan Comics' inaugural title, Jember, was the first Ethiopian superhero comic book. Now, the publisher is back with another first. Hawi is Ethiopia's first comic starring a female superhero.
The comic follows Ement Legesse, who is on a quest to liberate her mother after she is kidnapped. The first issue of Hawi is mostly complete, according to a report from OkayAfrica, though Debebe has set up a Kickstarter to cover remaining production costs.
Etan's comics, both Jember and Hawi, feature African artists and are available in both English and Amharic. Etan founder Beserat Debebe said that these characters, both in Jember and Hawi, meet a need for greater representation.
"I wish I had seen an Ethiopian superhero growing up," said Debebe. "I would have embraced my ability to make a difference earlier and acted on it."
Debebe said the lack of representation leads to what he sees as a person's biggest barrier to success: themselves. He wants his superheroes to remove those barriers.
Hawi goes one step further in its female representation, as the comic will also prominently feature Queen Yodit Gudit, a 10th century ruler whose Ahmaric nickname, Esato, means "fire." The inclusion of Queen Gudit and of other historical figures helps the series to highlight the often forgotten queendoms and kingdoms that were prominent in the country's past.
Current scientific evidence points to Ethiopia being one of the first places that modern humans developed, and that it is one of the areas of the world from which humans spread. As such, it has a rich history to draw upon, and plenty of myth to inject into a contemporary superheroic tale.
Jember is currently available from the Etan Comics website, with Hawi available to preorder from the Kickstarter page.