Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 3 April 2014
Category: Features Comments View Comments


Three new South African comics were launched at the Blank Books Comic Book Day Summer 2014 mini comics festival in Woodstock, which featured the Trantraal Brothers, Falcon Comics, kEda Gomes and Wesley Harris, Moray Rhoda, and Warren Raysdorf - and there was also free beer.

Blank Books is an independent book store in Woodstock, Cape Town, that sells, among other things, a large selection of hard-to-find secondhand books and a motley selection of local zines. It held its second mini comics festival two weeks ago (the first event was in November last year) to celebrate the release of a handful of new comics. Local creators gathered to sell their titles and sign comics and comics fans were treated to three new publications to keep them busy until next month's Free Comic Book Day extravaganza, where around 15 new titles will be launched.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Luis Tolosana, of Falcon Comics, had his first comic, Philo's Wish, and his mini comic Project Tilian Rep for sale. He was also promoting his new project Pulp Cult, an online magazine "in comic book format", which you can read at ISSUU. Luis is pictured above with Kay Carmichael, the creator of Sophie, Giant Slayer, who is busy working on more Sophie goodness that we can expect to see soon.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Andy Mason, the creator of Blue Mamba who goes by the pen name N.D. Mazin, showcased The Legend Of Blue Mamba, his anthology that collects all the Blue Mamba work that he produced for various publications over the years, as well as GrafLit, a black and white comics anthology that features work by both established and up-and-coming creators.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
kEda Gomes and Wesley Harris are the creators of Creamy Cheese Ninjas.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
kEda has also produced a few zines, sells prints and badges of some of her amazing artworks, and customises vinyl toys.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Warren Raysdorf (above) and Alastair Laird, who is in Durban, publish Free Beer, an anthology that is "slapped together now and then".

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Alastair is also the creator of Agenda, an ongoing compilation of some of his cartoons and comics.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Stefan Blank of Blank Books is considering printing posters of some of the old South African photo comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and he had a couple of examples on display.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Luntu "Ellevee" Vumazonke is one of the contributors to the This Life comics project that was run by the organisation Young In Prison, which teaches life skills to youth at risk using arts and sports. This Life was spearheaded by Clinton Osbourn and its group of contributors have illustrated very personal stories about their lives and experiences. (Please excuse the fact that the cover didn't photograph properly. You'll be able to see it when I cover the publication in a future roundup.)

As far as I know the Blank Books mini comics festival was the first public appearance of Volume 1 of the anthology (which was published in November), although I happened to spot and buy a copy at Readers Den a few days before.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
Moray Rhoda, the South African publishing half of Velocity, a South African-Australian co-production, showcased copies of the graphic-novel anthology. Moray recently spoke at Design Indaba about the anthology and the local comics industry.

Velocity has given comics creators on both continents an opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and the publishers were invited to the San Diego Comic-con last year to speak on a panel that introduced the anthology, and local work, to the conference attendees.

Blank Books Mini Comics Festival: Summer 2014
I was surprised to find the usually low-key Trantraal Brothers (Nathan, left, and André) at the festival. They produced a fantastic comic, Coloureds, a few years ago that unfortunately remained a one-off rather than becoming a series. Subsequently the brothers have worked on many other comics-related projects, including the graphic novel Stormkaap: Drome Kom Altyd Andersom Uit and the weekly cartoon The Richenbaums, which appears in The Cape Times.

I had a chance after the festival to talk to Nathan and André about their work, life, and projects, which was a very interesting conversation and a highlight of the day for me. Although I still stand by my opinion regarding the post on their Facebook page that I criticised in my roundup that featured Coloureds I'm really glad that I got to know them a bit better and I hope to have many more conversations with them in the future. They can be very opinionated (although it comes through much more online in interviews and on their Facebook page than in real life) but they are hardworking comics creators who immerse themselves in their projects and do great work that can inspire the next generation much more directly than most local creators will be able to.

The brothers were recently commissioned to create Crossroads: I Live Where I Like, a multi-issue story of the township of the same name in Cape Town, that was partly funded by a grant from the Canadian Steelworkers Humanity Fund. Isotrope Media, the publishing arm of Blank Books, decided to print the comic and make it available to the public and the first issue was launched at the Blank Books mini comics festival.

Isotrope Media is also the publisher of Archie Birch's series The Number 1 Game. The second issue, Episode 2 - An Offer You Can't Refuse, was the third comic launched at the festival. It continues the story of teenager Joe K who is struggling to survive on Cape Island, part of what's left of a futuristic Cape Town after the sea level has risen.

The publications that formed part of the Blank Books mini comics festival are available from the creators as well as Blank Books in Woodstock and Readers Den in Claremont and Tyger Valley. The next big event in Cape Town is Free Comic Book day on 3 May at Stadium On Main in Claremont so diarise it if you haven't already. You will be able to meet most of the creators mentioned in this article on the day.

Tags: #cape_town, #books, #comics, #speculative_fiction

Blank Books
On The Internet: Official Site, Facebook, Google+
Address: Salt Circle Arcade (Unit 2), 368 Albert Road, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa
Phone: +27 21 447 5741
Hours: Monday to Friday: 10:00 to 16:30; Saturday: 09:00 to 15:00

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