South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 4 August 2017
Category: News Comments View Comments


In the past month more comics got more exposure in national newspapers, Siri Watu went to print, the Open Book Comics Fest programme was announced, and comics made it to this year's EGE.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

Welcome to another South African comics news roundup, unfortunately slightly delayed by EGE, which was held recently in Cape Town (see below). Happily this year there continued to be comics representation at the event, which is primarily focused on gaming and e-sports.

Upcoming events to diarise are at the end of this roundup and more will be added to the calendar as they are announced.

Let's jump in to the news....

Comics At EGE

The third EGE (Electronic And Gaming Expo) was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre over the weekend. The focus of the event is gaming but each year there has been some sort of local comics presence. This year Readers Den Comic Shop and Awali Studios had stands.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

Readers Den Comic Shop, which began life as a humble boot-sale operation at Green Point Stadium, has now grown to two Cape Town based stores and organises the wildly successful annual FanCon Cape Town Comic Con. This year is the 25th year that the store based business has been in operation, which means there will be celebrations! They are scheduled for the end of September. I will have more on this in the next news roundup.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray
Above: Aneeqah Rahman, cosplaying a character who will debut in a future issue of Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa, and comic co-creator Ziyaad Rahman.
Awali Studios, meanwhile, is the collective behind Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa, a project I highlighted recently when it went public with a crowdfunding campaign. It was sheer luck that Ziyaad Rahman, the primary driving force behind the project, took a stand at EGE this year as this news roundup's main story is a followup on the crowdfunding project, the progress of the comics, and what's in store for the future so I was able to ask some relevant questions and complete my report, which you can read below, with more detailed information.

I'll have more on EGE and the comics in the next episode of #sacomics Cast. For more on Siri Watu, read on....

Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa #1 Is In Print

In a recent news roundup I highlighted a crowdfunding project for a new comic series, Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa #1, being produced partly in Cape Town by a new team of comic creators - Awali Studios. At the time the project was happening very much under the radar but in the past six weeks a fire has been lit under the creators and all sorts of fantastic positive developments have taken place.

The comic is inspired by manga art and anime storylines and features four African characters who "come to terms with a hidden heritage untold to them by their elders". The primary purpose of the crowdfunding campaign was to generate enough money to buy the primary artist, Duvan Botha, a computer and drawing tablet, with a secondary aim of helping with printing and ongoing production costs for the comic.

The campaign ultimately garnered US$325 in pledges, which is quite impressive for an untested product, before Ziyaad Rahman, the project's writer, co-colourist, and art assistant, cancelled it because, in the interim, he had managed to raise around US$200 from approximately 50 friends, family, and supporters in the real world, which was enough to buy a notebook and tablet to send to Botha, who is based in the Eastern Cape. (As a thank you, those who pledged will still be receiving a digital copy of the first two issues, even though the campaign was stopped.)

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

During that time he also got the first issue to the printers, organised a hasty launch at the end of June (which, unfortunately, I only found out about a few weeks ago), got copies of the comic to Readers Den Comic Shop, and ramped up promotional activities, which included appearing at EGE (you can see a photo taken at EGE illustrating the previous story in this news roundup) and on radio a few times in the past week.

Rahman's promotional efforts have been impressive - it's exactly what should have happened before the crowdfunding campaign, which would then have made it quite successful - but the team members are new to this and they are learning as they go along.

At EGE I had a chance to speak to Rahman about the project and learnt some interesting behind-the-scenes information - most notably that before Botha received the tablet he was creating the art, primarily in sketch form that Rahman was then inking and colouring, on a phone. This is why the effort to get the computer was so important - it wasn't about upgrading Botha's equipment, it was about getting him his first computer so he could work more easily on the comic.

Phones can be quite amazing - I currently edit the #sacomics Cast episodes on a mid-range Android device (out of necessity, not masochism) - but they can test one's faith and patience so it's very impressive to see how the team members believed so deeply in what they have been doing that they pushed through and made the first comic happen with the help of the only tools they had available to them.

The results are evident in the printed copy - some images quite clearly come from a more low-resolution source than others - but it's not particularly distracting and the victory here is that the team finished the comic and got it to print under difficult circumstances.

Plus, Rahman's enthusiasm and passion is catching. He won over many new fans at EGE and will be appearing in Port Elizabeth, with Duvan Botha, at Con•ect in early September (details will be in the South African Comics Calendar Of Events soon) to promote the comic further. He will also be at the Open Book Comics Fest, in the marketplace, to introduce the comic to more future Cape Town fans.

This is a success tale that I never expected but it's been wonderful to see it materialise. There is also a plan in place to get the next few issues out and I look forward to reading them.

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

More Newspapers Will Be Publishing Local Cartoons And Treknet Is (Sort Of) Back On TV

The creators of Mama Taxi (Deni Brown and Gavin Thomson) and the creators of Treknet (Gavin Thomson and Dave Gomersall) have signed a deal with Independent Newspapers that will see the two strips syndicated into all the group's daily and weekend newspapers. Mama Taxi previously appeared in the Weekend Argus and Treknet has been in and out of various publications over the years.

Recent Treknet (and, to a lesser extent, Mama Taxi) cartoons have focussed on topical South African and environmental issues, such as the drought in Cape Town, where the comic is set, and pollution in the ocean so hopefully more people will see the messages and rethink their responsibility to, and role within, the environment.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

The syndication agreement is great news for South African cartoons and cartoonists as more and more cartoonists have been dropped from local newspapers and web sites in recent years - Thomson, himself, has been a casualty a number of times. The weekend papers, especially, used to be filled with comics and now the (international) selection is quite dire, safe, and, frankly, boring.

Let's hope this is the start of more local publishing support for local comics - fans can already show their support by buying original Treknet cartoon strips by Gavin Thomson, who still draws the line art by hand. They're R650 each, which is a bargain.

Finally, a TV series based on Treknet, which aired a few years ago, is back on TV in reruns so if you missed it the first time you can still watch it. It's airing on Kyknet on Thursdays at 20:00, with repeats on Saturdays at 15:10 and Sundays at 17:00.

Stray #2 Covers And Ordering Information Announced

Ordering information for issue number two of the second volume of Stray - The Rottweiler Years - has been announced. As with the first issue it will be available in three cover options: a main cover illustrated by Stray co-creator Sean Izaakse; an action-figure variant by David Golding (with Sean Izaakse's art as the backing-board graphic), this time featuring young superhero Quarrel; and a variant by Carlos Cabaleiro featuring the TeenAgents.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

Fans who backed the Kickstarter project and have already read the PDF of this issue will recognise the Carlos Cabaleiro cover, which was used for the special Kickstarter edition.

South African Comics News Roundup: EGE, Siri Watu, Open Book, Treknet, And Pre Ordering Stray

It's important to pre order because the international comics system is broken and the survival of a title is dependent on whether it gets enough pre orders. Variant covers are also often printed in limited quantities so an early pre order is the only way to secure a copy of the one you want.

To pre order a specific cover you need to give the correct code to your local comics shop. (You can also pre order via the Things From Another World links below if you prefer to shop online):

• Cover A/Sean Izaakse: AUG171075
Things From Another World ]

• Cover B/David Golding (action figure): AUG171076
Things From Another World ]

• Cover B/Carlos Cabaleiro: AUG171077
Things From Another World ]

The cutoff date for pre ordering is in about a month. The issue will be out on 11 October 2017.

There are also a few days left to pre order copies of the first issue, which will be out on 6 September 2017. The cutoff date is 14 August 2017. You can see all the cover options here.

• Cover A/Sean Izaakse: JUL171261
Things From Another World ]

• Cover B/David Golding (action figure): JUL171262
Things From Another World ]

• Cover C/Sean Izaakse (Eighties homage): JUL171263
Things From Another World ]

Open Book Comics Fest Programme Announced

The programme for this year's Open Book Comics Fest in Cape Town, which is taking place in early September, has been posted on the web site. I'll have a full calendar update for that ready in a few days, as some comics people are also appearing in the main Open Book Festival programme and those events aren't listed as part of the comics programme, but for now here are some of the highlights:

• Roberto Millan and Su Opperman will be hosting their Draw Your Own Superhero workshop, this time aimed at children aged 7 to 13. I've sat in on this workshop before and it's highly recommended.

• ToonZA will be holding Monster Battle workshops and draw offs in which artists - and aspiring artists - will compete throughout the weekend. The drawings will be auctioned to help with fundraising for future workshops for young people. (You can see highlights from one such workshop, which took place earlier this year during the Blown Away By Books festival, in #sacomics Cast Episode #2.)

•  Sjaka S Septembir and Swart Streep will be launching Die Avonture Van Bal-Oog & Brommel: Moord In Ixia Straat [The Adventures Of Bal-Oog & Brommel: Murder In Ixia Street], which is being printed as I type this.

•  Martin Mezzabotta and Hugh Upsher will be creating a zine from scratch in a live demo session.

With the change in logo colour (the Open Book Comics Fest logo is now turquoise) comes a change in festival format: this year's programme is lighter on panel discussions, with more focus on interactive events, which is an interesting change - we'll have to see if it's successful. Most of the events will again be free but there are a few that require paid tickets and most of the events, even if free, also require tickets but there are a few for which visitors can just show up to watch what transpires. I'll detail this all in the calendar page, along with venue information and maps, to make it easier for visitors to plan their schedules. The marketplace will be situated, as usual, in The District 6 Homecoming Centre, as will the bulk of the events, but a few programme items are off site in nearby buildings.

As for The Book Lounge window, which was painted by a comics team last year to celebrate the festival (see the video below), it seems that, unfortunately, this year there won't be a comics-inspired window. If that changes we'll be there, of course, to document it.

YouTube link

Finally, a call has been put out to artists who would like to participate in the festival's charity initiatives. This year artists are being asked to decorate an Open Book Festival canvas tote bag inspired by poets published by uHlanga. The bags will be sold for R150 each and the funds will go to the festival's library project. If you're interested in participating, see this Facebook post for more details.

News In Brief

• Diorgo Jonkers has posted more comic book scripts, On The Balcony, The Perfect Touch, and The Dead Monkey, which is slightly longer at 15 pages.

• Danielle Albertyn/Milo Wildcat now has a profile on ArtStation.

• From September, due to popular demand, the Open Art Sketch Meets in Cape Town will be taking place on three weekends a month (plus the monthly Art Thursdays evening event).

• An interview with Zapiro as been published in the August issue of Fairlady. It looks specifically at his "stuff", delving into the stories of some of his favourite things, including his collectible figurines of The Beatles, the wooden rifle he used to carry in protest while in the army, and his copy of The Mandela Files that was signed by Nelson Mandela.

• In more Zapiro news, his most recent annual book, Dead President Walking, is on sale at for R99, while stocks last. If you haven't bought a copy yet this is your best - and most affordable - chance to do so. It's also great to give as a gift.

• Dates have been announced for the next UCON, the gaming, cosplay, comics, and anime convention that's organised by UCT's student society Genshiken: 27 and 28 January 2018.

• Zen L of Farukon Studios started posting what looked to be a new comic, titled Beyond and set in the Pinnacle City universe, in an album on the Farukon Studios Facebook page. After a couple of weeks the album disappeared, however (or is possibly only available to a select few). We'll have to wait to see what transpires.

News In Brief In Pictures

Here are some pictures... showing some brief news.

August Events

South African Comics Calendar Of EventsAugust is another quiet month for South African comics events before more high profile festivals and conventions take place in September but there are still a few notable meetups and markets, as well as one convention, to attend.

The Open Art Sketch Meets are taking place on three dates in August in Cape Town: on Saturday, 5 August; on Thursday, 10 August, to coincide with Art Thursdays in Observatory; and on Saturday, 26 August.

Central City Comics in Johannesburg will be celebrating Women's Day on 9 August with special deals for its female customers. Balloon popping (not a metaphor) is mandatory. Hopefully they will not all be pink.

Comexposed 2017, Zimbabwe's big annual comics convention, will be taking place in Harare on 12 August.

Shameema Dharsey will be selling her comics and colouring books at two pre-Eid markets in Cape Town on 19 August in Belgravia and 26 August in Surrey Estate.

Any additional events will be posted in the South African Comics Calendar Of Events as they are announced.

Tags: #books, #comics, #open_book, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction

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