New Comic Studio Brings Age-Old African American Folk Legend, John Henry, Back in Graphic Novel Saga

MEMPHIS, TN — Today, Mayke (“make”) Studios announced John Henry: Invictus, Chapter 1: Legend, a new graphic novel saga that expands on the mythology and legacy of John Henry inside an all-new mythical fantasy universe.

“The railroad is a new frontier, and John Henry is ready to take it on. However, when an intimidating machine threatens to take it all away, he finds himself caught in a dangerous race to prove once and for all no man is obsolete in this alternative-fantasy graphic novel adaptation,” reads the novel’s logline.

Since his introduction through ballads and bedtime stories over a hundred years ago, fans and newcomers of John Henry will find a story that respects the classic tale while infusing a unique, fresh perspective on the African American folk character. John Henry: Invictus is written by Mayke Studios Founder and CEO Grae Williams and illustrated by Omar Francia (Volition, Star Wars).

“Chapter One sets the stage by retelling John Henry’s classic tall tale story; the ultimate showdown between him and the steam drill. The original tale is magical on its own, and I think our approach and respect for that allowed the classic story to make room for us to expand on it. We didn’t come in with the intent to change the story we all know and love. We came in to amplify it,” says writer, Grae Williams. “In the pantheon of American gods, John Henry is one of them. To me, he’s the Godfather of American Tall Tales and the Legend of Black Folklore. But he’s never been properly venerated. Matter of fact, the entirety of American folktales across all cultures deserve more prominence in society because of what they stand for. These characters were superheroes long before the name was coined. Mayke Studios is about venerating these characters and the stories that connect us to our past, our cultures, our lineages, and getting strength, healing, and self-transformation from them. We look back to move forward. Mayke is here to make that journey fun, entertaining, and heroic,” says Williams.

The 54-page graphic novel is set to release late 2021 or early 2022 and is currently in production. The studio will fund the entire project in-house before putting the project on Kickstarter to fund printing and shipping costs. Kickstarter details are forthcoming on their website ( and social media channels (@maykestudios).

For more information, please visit

Press & Media Inquiries

The latest news and updates, direct from Mayke.