South African Comics News Roundup: Siri Watu, Open Book Crowdfunding, ICON, Geek Ink, And FanCon Loot

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 2 June 2017
Category: News Comments View Comments


The South African comics news highlights for the past month include details on two crowdfunding projects, including one for Open Book Festival, as well as more information on new videos, new comics, and new projects in the works.

South African Comics News Roundup: Siri Watu, Open Book Crowdfunding, ICON, Geek Ink, And FanCon Loot

This roundup is a little lighter on diverse news as I've been sick twice this month (thank you FanCon for the first instance), which cumulatively has been over 15 days, so it's been very difficult to gather all the news, keep the calendar running, and create videos. I did what I could.

It includes news on two crowdfunding projects that are currently live and needing support; a focus on ICON, which is taking place in Johannesburg over the long weekend in June; and the usual snippets and short stories to keep you informed.

There's also some event information at the end so you can start planning your diary for June.

Help To Fund A Local Comic

A new local comic project has snuck onto Indiegogo under the radar (which, in itself, is a problem). The project is called Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa and the long term plan is to develop an animated series and a comic series. It's being developed by Awali Studios, which is a mix of artists and students who are determined to realise Siri Watu (which means "the secret people"), an idea that was originally conceptualised by the team in 2007.

South African Comics News Roundup: Siri Watu, Open Book Crowdfunding, ICON, Geek Ink, And FanCon Loot

According to the crowdfunding page: "Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa follows Dialo, Ayanda, Zita, and Senzo, four eclectic teenagers with broadly different upbringings, as they come to terms with a hidden heritage untold to them by their elders. Arriving at the heritage camp site, Camp Tshukudu, named after the rhinos they offer sanctuary to, the teenagers begin to delve into the legacy of people they never knew existed - the Wielders. The Wielders hold great power that promises to bend the way the teenagers think the world works; powers the teenagers learn they have inherited. But now, most of the wielders are gone, having long ago gone silent and disappeared into exile. At the same time, as the four descendants begin to grasp a world of heritage hidden to them, a destructive force is sinisterly working behind the scenes to put an end to the unhidden world they know exists."

As a bonus, if the team surpasses its funding goals it wants to go ahead with another comics project, Inheritors of Merlin. Again, according to the crowdfunding page: "Inheritors Of Merlin follows Hope, a young woman trying to find the school of Intliziyo Merlin, the rumored school of the remaining disgraced Pulse users. Along her journey she picks up the miscellaneous stragglers Kyl and Soro-b. Together they find themselves as mercenaries on an epic journey across the fantastical countryside of iYokazulu. However shortly into their journey they get caught up in a thick plot to steal the Beads Of Azi; powerful objects that promise to free a kingdom from the corrupted power of the old king's guard."

Unfortunately no one knows about this crowdfunding project because the team hasn't done a good job of marketing it - FanCon, for example, would have been a fantastic opportunity to get the word out but the team wasn't there. The only reason I know about it is because one of's readers pointed me to it after, by chance, running into one of the team members in a library. Without an enthusiastic fan base it's unlikely that the project will secure the US$1099 in baseline funding it is looking for, especially since the team also doesn't understand the intricacies and psychology of crowdfunding (case in point: the reward tiers are unnecessarily complicated). Most projects fail to get funding. It requires a well planned strategy, that usually takes a few months to map out, to get a project to acquire enough backers.

However, it's still good to see more local artists trying to make a comics project happen and you can jump in for as little as US$1 for the digital version of the first comic and to show your support. The crowdfunding campaign has "a month left", according to Indiegogo, which is not very good at providing precise information in the way that Kickstarter is, but take that to mean it will conclude towards the end of June. You can visit the Indiegogo page to find out more and see character synopses, artwork, and 3D renderings.

Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa: Official Site, Indiegogo Page
Awali Studios: Official Site

Open Book Needs Help Too

Free Comic Book Day 2017June seems to be a popular month for crowdfunding as there's another campaign running at the moment, this time for the annual Open Book Festival, which takes place every September in Cape Town, of which the Open Book Comics Fest is a part.

I've been informed about the campaign but have no background information on it beyond what you can read on the crowdfunding page on Thundafund so I'm going to have to make some assumptions as to why this is happening. The Open Book Festival is run by a handful of people who are employed to do so and with the help of corporate sponsors that assist with the costs, which include paying for some of the venues, the sound and technical people, and the marketing. There's more but I have no idea what it is. The festival has never been for profit and consequently hasn't previously been able to pay the authors an appearance fee, which has resulted in backlash as appearance fees are one way in which authors earn a living, and are deemed especially appropriate when the audience is charged an entry fee, which is usually the case for most of the items on the Open Book Festival programme. (In contrast, the Open Book Comics Fest programme, including the workshops, is largely free, as are the initiatives that take authors into underprivileged communities to inspire children to be readers, writers, and artists.)

Consequently many of the international guests only appear at the festival due to financial support offered by their literary, arts, and governmental societies, while the local authors do it altruistically as they believe in the festival and its intentions.

The Open Book Festival, which has been running successfully since 2011, now appears to be in a funding pickle (it may be too early to deem it a full on crisis), perhaps due to the withdrawal of sponsors, as the arts are severely underfunded and money tends to go to soccer, rugby, and cricket, or perhaps the parting of ways due to sponsor requirements that threaten the integrity of the festival. (I don't know - I'm just guessing based on having watched these scenarios play out many times over the years.) It may also be that there have never been enough sponsors to begin with. (I'm sure that's true.)

As a result the team is running a crowdfunding campaign with a dream goal of R250 000, which would enable the authors to receive an appearance fee, and a modest minimum goal of R25 000 to pay for the venues. The more money the public contributes, the more independent the festival can remain and the more financial support the authors receive.

YouTube link ]
Above: A timelapse video of Philo coming to life in The Book Lounge's window for Open Book Festival 2016.
This crowdfunding campaign is different in that it's not to fund a commercial project so the rewards for the backer tiers are token thank you items rather than a return on the investment. (The return on the investment is helping to fund the arts by seeing the festival continue, and continue to be independent.) Backers can receive pin badges of the new logo artwork by Luis Tolosana that debuted last year, which features his character Philo from Philo's Wish, as well as advance access to this year's programme, tickets to events, and day passes, among other options. The campaign runs until the end of June.

ICON Turns 25

The annual ICON comics and gaming convention, which is held each year in Johannesburg and which was the first such convention to take place in South Africa, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

South African Comics News Roundup: Siri Watu, Open Book Crowdfunding, ICON, Geek Ink, And FanCon Loot

The convention is taking place from 16 to 18 June 2017 (that's a long weekend) at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and it will be featuring two international guests, which I noted in the previous news roundup: James L Sutter from Paizo, who co-created the Pathfinder RPG and is the creative director of the Starfinder RPG, and cosplayer Linda "Vampy Bit Me" Le, who is the guest of honour.

The programme of events will include over 40 speaker panels, the ICON Comedy Evening, and tech innovations from companies such as MakerBot. One of the panel highlights will be "Create An Alien", in which James L Sutter will design an alien from scratch based on a world from the Valerian cosmos and Sean Izaakse will draw the alien live as it's being designed.

Tickets cost R120 for a single day pass, R250 for a weekend pass, and R995 for a VIP pass, which includes parking, merchandise, bottomless tea and coffee, front row seating, a photo session with Linda Le, and a ticket to the comedy event.

Children under 12 get free entry on 16 June (Youth Day) but are still required to register for a ticket.

For more information, possible last-minute information, and a map keep an eye on the ICON entry in the South African Calendar Of Events.

We're Still On The Couch With Geek Ink

A new episode of On The Couch With Geek Ink has been posted on YouTube so that couch is obviously comfortable. This one features Rowan Govender, Shameema Dharsey, and Milo Wildcat (Danielle Albertyn) talking about the arts and writing training, and teachers, that helped them develop their skills (or not) and the jobs that led them to comics (or not).

YouTube link

There's also a little bit of historic information regarding how some of their first comics came to be, which I found particularly interesting.

Geek Ink/Rowan Govender: Official Site, Facebook, Patreon, SoundCloud, Twitter, YouTube
Danielle Albertyn: Official Site, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr

Previously... On airwavez?

I didn't have a chance to post new local-comics content to in May but I did manage to complete two new videos for airwavez on YouTube.

Most important is Episode #3 of @sacomics Cast, which is a special episode that features a showcase of all the new local comics that were at FanCon (plus a few others of note). Episode #4, which is in production, will be back with the usual format and will feature a bumper news section as there's lots to catch up on due to the numerous events that have taken place in the past two months.

YouTube link

I also unboxed the DC Lil Bombshells Wonder Woman 75 FCBD Vinyl Figure, which a number of local comics shops were offering as part of this year's Free Comic Book Day celebrations, so that's a tenuous link to South African comics but if you like watching videos there's another one to watch. (If you've already seen it watch it again. airwavez needs video views.)

YouTube link

Thank you to all the people who have supported the channel and have been watching the videos, as well as for all the thumbs up and comments. I really appreciate it.

News In Brief

• Sean Izaakse has been announced as the new ongoing line artist for Marvel's Uncanny Avengers, starting with issue #26 (there's a sneak picture later in this news roundup). It is written by Jim Zub, with whom he has previously collaborated on a number of comics.

• The first two issues of Sector are now available on, which sells digital comics. The first issue has been discounted to US$0.50, so now you have no reason not to get it, and the second issue is US$1.99. I've previously reported that Sector #1 is also available on Comixology.

• A number of framed original artworks by Daniel Hugo are on show at Haas Collective in Cape Town.

• New Cottonstar merchandise consisting of shirts, vests, and patches, which debuted at this year's FanCon, are now available worldwide through Danelle Malan's Etsy store in the Cottonstar section. Ben G Geldenhuys's new comic Trinetta Sky, which also debuted at FanCon this year (see more in #sacomics Cast Episode #3, above), can be found in the store as well. It's US$10.00 for the physical copy.

• Lauren Beukes and Nanna Venter have collaborated on a Brenda Fassie comic for the upcoming Femme Magnifique anthology, which is a crowdfunded project that was spearheaded by US comics editor Shelly Bond and which features the stories of notable woman in the arts, science and technology, and politics. You can see some of the pages in the preview that City Press published.

• Andrew Cramer has launched a new web site, which features highlights of his work, such as his colouring and illustration projects.

News In Brief - In Pictures

Everyone's creating cover art, it seems.

Secret to drawing Dr Voodoo - it's all in the cheekbones. #UncannyAvengers

A post shared by SeanIzaakseArt (@seanizaakse) on

Upcoming Events To Diarise

To end this news roundup I shall highlight some of the events taking place in June, although it's always best to visit the South African Comics Calendar Of Events home page for the most up-to-date details.

South African Comics News Roundup: Siri Watu, Open Book Crowdfunding, ICON, Geek Ink, And FanCon Loot

The first significant local comics event for this month is Wonder Woman Day on Saturday, 3 June 2017, which is taking place at participating comics shops around the world, including Readers Den Comic Shop in Cape Town and Central City Comics and Cosmic Comics in Johannesburg. See the corresponding calendar pages for more details on the specific stores' specials and offerings.

The Open Art Sketch Meets continue in June at The Drawing Room in Cape Town. The will only be three, rather than four: one to coincide with Art Thursdays (on the 8th) and two on Saturday mornings (on the 17th and 24th).

N.D. Mazin will be part of an art exhibition opening at The Hive in Muizenburg, Cape Town, on 15 June 2017. There will be a walkabout Saturday, 17 June 2017, at 10am (which is far too early in the morning if you don't live in Muizenburg). The calendar page for this is still pending but it will be up soon.

Finally, this is a quick reminder that the Kickstarter campaign for Amazing Heroes 2, which will result in a Stray action figure (among other characters), ends on Tuesday, 6 June 2017. You therefore have a handful of days left to pitch in if you are keen to own any of the action figures.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #books, #comics, #fancon, #comics, #lauren_beukes, #open_book, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction

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  • 14: Raak Wys Launch, CPT
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  • 17: Bargain Books Sale, CPT
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