Cape Town Comic Con brings out Africa’s geeky side

SHOWS: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (APRIL 29, 2017) (REUTERS) – Comic book and science fiction fans and creators from around the world were in Cape Town this weekend for the second edition of the city’s Comic Con.

The event is inspired by the international Comic Con first held in 1970 in southern California as a platform to bring together different entertainment platforms with their followers in one place. Hundreds of similar events have been held around the world since then.

Cape Town’s Comic Con offers a unique opportunity for fans and illustrators from across Africa to be seen and to interact and re-discover the art as it emerges from a new depth on the continent.

Breaking away from a long history of western comic superheroes like Superman and Batman, creators here are offering stories based on African characters and culture.

“The idea is really, there is a lot of good guys out there doing things but I think it’s for us to connect them but I think it is events like these where the guys will notice that there is scope for them to do something, there’s market for them, there is a fan base out there that would love to hear what is happening, especially with our African mythology, the stories out of Africa the beautiful things that can be told,” said Nizar Abrahams, one of the organizers of the annual event.

South African, Loyiso Mkize was one of the artists drawing appreciation at Cape Town Comic Con this year.

The South African fine artist and designer has been working with the long running soccer themed comic series ‘Super Strikas’. He recently launched his own project which publishes Kwezi – Xhosa and Zulu for ‘star’. It is a series about a self absorbed 19-year-old learning to use his new-found superpowers for good.

“One of the key factors in my work is developing an African identity, well fit for the 21st century. I mean, the contemporary South African is very different to what you may consider to be part of the modern world and there are so many great stories that we haven’t told of ourselves and our cultures and superimposing those factors into a superhero genre just felt so great, such a powerful statement that creating South Africa’s first superhero seemed like such a tantalizing an idea. I could not resist and that’s where Kwezi came in and I think more titles in that same vein will come out from my stable,” he said.

Enthusiasts of comic culture had a chance to buy collectables and experience products based on some of their favourite superheroes and villains.

The gathering also attracted international players like U.S. based ‘Top Cow’ president and COO, Matt Hawkins, who spoke to a room full of budding artists and fans and expressed interest in penetrating the African market.

“I am here to try and show my work to an audience that has probably not been exposed to it before. Top Cow is well known internationally for books like, ‘Witchblade’ and ‘The Darkness’ and ‘Wanted’ which was the Angelina Jolie film based on our comic book … so… We have about 6000 titles which, we published in our 25-year-history so there’s a lot of material that is available, it’s all available through ‘Comicsology’ which is a digital imprint, so anyone can read it everywhere, but it is also available on Amazon and we are here definitely looking for other publishing partners in the African Continent to publish in some of the native tongues,” he said.

Newcomers had a chance to present their work and convince investors and fans that they can contribute to the future of comics.

“Well, I have been mostly been exposed to international comics but I definitely am interested in getting more into African comics and more local talent and that’s definitely where I am looking to break out into,” said young artist, Mandla Thusi.

Organizers say the interest and skill around comics and African pop culture is enough to grow the event to other cities across Africa.