Some of you may be familiar with the African Spider god Anansi brought into mainstream media by the Starz television series American Gods. American Gods is a novel by Neil Gaiman which mixes mythology and fantasy revolving around ex-convict Shadow. In the television series we are introduced to Anansi (Played by Orlando Jones) in the bowls of a slave ship giving a passionate speech to African slaves prophesying their future. In the last scene Anansi’s ‘true’ image is revealed as he tells a captive slave to “…let the muthafucka burn!”.

After American Gods, Gaiman released an unofficial sequel –non-sequel, Anansi’s Boys, which has recently been re-released in a collector’s edition illustrated by Francis Vallejo. In Anansi Boys:

“Nancy discovers that not only was the late Mr Nancy actually the god Anansi, but that he also has a long-lost brother, Spider, who is everything Fat Charlie is not. When Spider begins to take over Fat Charlie’s life, flat and even his fiancée Rosie, Fat Charlie is forced to make a pact that lands him in trouble with the gods themselves… Anansi Boys is a story of love, laughter, music and murder, old gods and new tricks that takes Fat Charlie from his home in South London to Florida, the Caribbean, and the very Beginning of the World itself. Or the End of the World.”

The original was also turned into an audio series by the BBC. Jacob Anderson stars as Charlie, Dirk Maggs, Joseph Marcell, Lenny Henry, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Adjoa Andoh, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Julian Rhind-Tutt, as well as a cameo appearance from Neil Gaiman.

Perhaps inspired by Gaiman’s Mr. Nancy, comic book writer and artist, Niko Henrichon featured Anansi in Spider-Man Fairy Tales #2. In the comic:

“Kwaku Anansi, the First Spider, melds with the Marvel Universe as Anansi learns a valuable lesson about power and responsibility. On his quest for the legendary Spider-Orchid, Anansi is challenged by four elemental beings who seek to stop him from reaching his goal.”

Possibly an inspiration for both Gaiman and Henrichon is this short animated video on the folklore featuring an adventure of Anansi and his sons.

It will be interesting to see, if Starz creates an Anansi Boys live adaptation to supplement American Gods, like they supplemented The Walking Dead with ‘Fear The Walking Dead’.