How 'Jia and the Nian Monster' Brings a Chinese Folktale to Comics

The March release is inspired by a classic story from mythology.
Megan Huang/Dark Hourse Comics
The March release is inspired by a classic story from mythology.

Dark Horse Comics’ upcoming graphic novel, Jia and the Nian Monster, sees the publisher turn to mythology for its latest adventure, and The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive preview ahead of the title’s release.

The 80-page graphic novel adapts an ancient Chinese folktale to tell the story of Jia and Deshi, two youngsters who decide to fight back against the monster that attacks their village every new year — a mission that is personal for Jia, who seeks revenge against the monster for killing her mother years earlier. But is that enough to help her survive against such a powerful enemy?

“China’s history is rich with folktales and fables, most unknown to western readers,” writer Mike Richardson — who also happens to be Dark Horse’s president and founder — told THR when explaining the origins of the project. “One of the most popular is the story of the Nian monster, a legend that explains the origin of the Chinese New Year celebration — Nian is translated as New Year. When looking into the assorted versions of the tale, I realized the monster’s full story and motivation had never been told. I had been searching for a story to write that might appeal to all ages, and the story of Nian was exactly what I was looking for. I was able to incorporate several other Chinese legends into the tale, and I hope it will inspire young readers to investigate the actual legends themselves.”

The graphic novel is illustrated by Canadian artist Megan Huang, making her graphic novel debut with the title.

Jia and the Nian Monster will be released March 18 in comic book stores, with a March 31 release in bookstores. Until then, feast your eyes on the excerpt from the book’s opening below.