The first volume of Chinese cartoonist Nie Jun‘s new graphic novel series, Seekers of the Aweto, is set to arrive in stores next Tuesday, March 2nd. The first book of the four-volume series from the Eisner-nominated Jun, Seekers of the Aweto: The Hunt is On, is a fantasy-adventure story that follows Xinyue, a seeker who discovers and must protect the child of a god from danger. Now, ahead of the title’s first English release, The Beat can share an exclusive excerpt from the graphic novel, newly translated by Edward Gauvin.

Here’s how publisher Lerner Books describes Seekers of the Aweto: The Hunt is On:

Xinyue, his brother Qiliu, and their mother are seekers, hunting aweto―a rare, plantlike treasure. A single aweto has the power to cure the ill. Its rarest form may even grant eternal life. To seize their bounty, the seekers must rob the massive, majestic earth deities from which aweto sprout—sometimes leaving a trail of chaos behind them.

One day, after an outing on the legendary Silk Road, Xinyue discovers the offspring of a deity that creates aweto and becomes the little creature’s reluctant caretaker. Now he must keep it safe and keep it a secret. But warriors from the creature’s village are close behind, and more fearsome thieves wait ahead….

Along with the exclusive excerpt, Jun provided some additional information about his development of the Seekers of the Aweto series and his plans for the series’ future:

On sharing a fantastical version of medieval China with an American audience and what he hopes the readers take away from it:

Hello everyone, I am Nie Jun, the artist of the comic Seekers of the Aweto. I am really happy to meet American readers again in this work. This story, from the beginning of the script, the preparation of the material to the finished drawings, took many years. I set up a fictitious [historical] backdrop for this comic. In fact, I referred to a lot of ancient Western culture. This is a place I yearn for. Various people from the East and the West met here [on the Silk Road] and created many interesting stories. I really hope that readers can feel a sincere understanding that transcends language and ethnic groups in the comics, as well as respect and love for natural creatures.

On the environmental/conservation theme that goes through the book:

Yes, the protagonist of the story, Xin Yue, was a boy who had no respect for nature at the beginning. He has been blindly following his brother. He goes from destruction, stealing, fighting, to confession. He was awakened–his self-awareness is due to the kindness hidden in his heart. Xin Yue and a group of partners who love the natural environment will bravely protect the nature deities. Everyone overcomes all difficulties and seeks the answer to life. This is the theme I hope to run through the book.

On what comes next in the series:

In this comic, the characters will have a lot of misunderstandings due to the differences in ethnic groups and languages at the beginning, so I tried to create a “Language of the Earth” that can connect everyone together. I hope it won’t make everybody confused when you reading it. The little guy [chadolo] will get his own name, “Suna”. In Chinese, this means moment, and it can also be understood as the meaning of eternity. I hope everyone will like this comic and I hope to have the opportunity to communicate with you.

Jun’s previous graphic novel, My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, was published by Graphic Universe/Lerner in 2018. The book, also translated by Gauvin, was nominated for numerous awards, including an Eisner for Best US Edition of International Material—Asia.

Seekers of the Aweto: The Hunt is On is the latest release from Lerner Books’s Graphic Universe imprint of young reader titles. Other titles in the imprint’s library include Haiko Hörnig and Marius Pawlitza‘s A House Divided series, and cartoonist Marco Finnegan‘s historical sci-fi graphic novel, Lizard in a Zoot Suit.

Check out the exclusive excerpt for Seekers of the Aweto: The Hunt is On below. The first book of the four-volume series arrives in stores on Tuesday, March 2nd.

Seekers of the Aweto Book 1 Page 34

Seekers of the Aweto Book 1 Page 35

Seekers of the Aweto Book 1 Page 36

Seekers of the Aweto Book 1 Page 37

Seekers of the Aweto Book 1 Pages 38-39