South African Comics News Roundup: Haunted Garage, Comic Con Cape Town, TEDx, And Crowdfunding


This news update dives into the Comic Con Cape Town controversy, offers a little teaser of a new game co-created by Jean de Wet, and highlights Tegan Phillips at TEDx and two crowdfunding projects that need support, plus there's a quick roundup of some of the news highs and lows from 2018.

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 15 March 2019
Category: News
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Composite image with art by South African comics creators Tegan Phillips, Stephen Spinas, and Jean de Wet

Early 2019 was largely quiet but now the South African comics events are in full swing and the news is rolling in. This roundup looks at some of the notable events from 2018 before diving into new projects to watch this year, including two that need support on crowdfunding platforms.

There's also a brief roundup of events taking place this month but remember that the best place to keep informed is the South African Comics Calendar Of Events, which includes all the details, such as dates, times, and, where applicable, ticket information, as well as maps to help you find what are often obscure venues. There's also save-the-date information for events later in the year, whose calendar entries I will be adding in due course.

Now, let's jump into the news.


The 2018 Lows...

Since this is the first South African comics news roundup for 2019 I am kicking off with some of the highs and lows from last year (and early January), and the worst story is the death of Deni Brown, the writer of Mama Taxi, which she co-created with artist Gavin Thomson. If you missed the news I wrote in detail about her death, and the ending of the comic strip, in a post in January.

The final Mama Taxi comic strip, which was published on 14 December 2018

Subsequently Gavin Thomson told me that Mama Taxi's spinoff comic strip Frikkie, which features the (mis)adventures of traffic officer Frikkie, Mama Taxi's lovable antagonist, will be continuing - with Deni Brown's blessing - with a new writer: Dave Gomersall. Gomersall is Thomson's other cartooning partner (the two collaborate on Treknet, Brak, Koos, and other comic strips). People magazine, which used to run Mama Taxi, is now running Frikkie in its place as are the newspapers Die Burger and Die Beeld and Frikkie can also be found in Drive Times, a supplement in the Cape Times newspaper on Thursdays.

There was another comics casualty in 2018 - Supa Strikas, which at one point was arguably the comic in the world with the biggest print run (with 720 000 copies distributed on four continents), officially ended. The animated television series continues but the death of the printed comic is a huge blow to the local industry and means an important career starting point for local comics creators is now also lost as many of the people who are now making their own independent comics got their start in a role at Strika Entertainment. It is also a blow to literacy in South Africa as the comic, at its height, was distributed for free in popular magazines that had a massive reach all over the country and that meant that every month thousands of children had access to a locally produced comic.

Finally, Central City Comics in Johannesburg closed down, as we reported in August, and a few local creators and their families emigrated: Pete Woodbridge (Velocity Anthology) moved to the UK and Lynton Levengood (Draconis) moved to Mauritius.



...And Highs

There was a lot of good comics news in 2018 (some of which you can find in the South African comics archives), including Sean Izaakse's Marvel career exploding. He's worked on so many different titles in the past few years - and has had the opportunity to draw some career-goal characters as a result - that it's been very hard to keep track of what's going on. (There's some information regarding his most recent project in the News In Brief section later in this roundup.)

Jason Masters, meanwhile, got to collaborate on a digital comic with an international creative team that features Common "starring" as the protagonist, Caster. Chapter 26 of the first story, which should be wrapping up soon, was posted yesterday.

A record number of new local comics and zines were launched at FanCon Cape Town Comic Con in 2018 - by my count 18 (including one digital comic that became a printed comic later in the year), with 21 in total launching in Cape Town for the first time (those extra three had already debuted elsewhere in the country). Here's the list: Fowl Play, Sector 10, The Sixth 1 and The Sixth 2, Wanton, Until Sunset Volume 1, Defenders Of Eden #1, Kowa Kawaii 3, Out Of The Ordinary, LilSweetie's Adventures, Fatal Fempire, Bear, Istoria, Alby, The Rusty Bolt, Sunday's Slave, Sophie The Giantslayer Chapter 4, Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa Issue #2 and Siri Watu: Descendants Of Africa Issue #3 (digital), and TechNoir Volume 1 The Heart Of Darkness Issue 1 - Fade To Black and TechNoir Volume 1 The Heart Of Darkness Issue 2 - The Chair.

Clyde Beech, Mohale Mashigo, and Loyiso Mkize launch Kwezi Collector's Edition 4 at Readers Den Comic Shop in Claremont, Cape Town

The fourth "Collector's Edition" of Kwezi, which is by Loyiso Mkize, Clyde Beech, and Mohale Mashigo and comprises issues 10, 11, and 12, was launched at Readers Den Comic Shop and is one of the few local comics or graphic novels that's available at good local bookstores countrywide.

Finally, an official Comic Con finally came to Africa (yes, the entire continent): the inaugural Comic Con Africa (though, honestly, it should be called Comic Con Johannesburg) was held in Johannesburg in September last year and was so successful that it's back this year in a bigger and better venue. (There was a good selection of comics launches at Comic Con Africa too.)



Comic Con Cape Town - It's A Bit Of A Drama

A surprise announcement out of this past weekend's Cape Town International Animation Festival (CTIAF) was the news of Comic Con Cape Town. Ahead of Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse director Peter Ramsey's keynote address CTIAF's director, Dianne Makings, announced that there would be a "partnership" between CTIAF and Comic Con Africa and then Comic Con Africa's managing director, Carol Weaving, dropped the bombshell that Comic Con Cape Town, a new event, would be coming to Cape Town over the weekend of 1 to 3 May 2020.

Comic Con Cape Town logo

That was all that was announced - and the surprise, plus lack of detailed information, sent local comics creators into a panic spiral. Those dates are a week after the traditional dates for FanCon Cape Town Comic Con and are on the weekend of Free Comic Book Day, a day traditionally celebrated by comic shops, Readers Den Comic Shop (the organisers of FanCon Cape Town Comic Con) included, and it's one of the highlights of the yearly comics calendar. Since this year's Comic Con Africa in Johannesburg is being held a week before rAge, conspiracy theories began to take hold. Was Comic Con trying to destroy the local events scene? What was going on? Where would the event be held? Would it be at the CTICC as well, since it's the most logical place for such a large convention?

While I was running around at the rest of CTIAF Clint O'Shea (Zombie Dredd) over at our friends Zombiegamer put on his detective hat and discovered that a Twitter account and web domain had been registered for Comic Con Cape Town, which intimated that the event would be taking place at the Cape Town Stadium. He also speculated about the dates and intention but with no official word from any of the parties involved we had to wait to see what would happen.

A press release sent out a day later by Comic Con Africa confirmed the dates but not the venue and additionally stated that "The dates for the event were researched in great detail, the timing of local events need to be considered and the organisers are governed by the global calendar for Cons. When looking for a venue to host Comic Con Cape Town the venue advised the organisers that FanCon would be taking place in June 2020, which meant that hosting Comic Con Cape Town right at the beginning of May over a public holiday would allow adequate time between both events and Reed Exhibitions and Reed Pop are more than happy to collaborate and co-promote any other pop culture event for the good of the industry."

I also started asking questions as it seemed very suspicious that Comic Con Africa would ask a venue for advice (and which venue?) and not the organisers of the various events in the yearly Cape Town geek and comics calendar. Although I cannot reveal everything I've been told (I'm assuming it was off the record, even though it wasn't stated as such), it's possible that the date clash may be resolved in a way that suits everyone but we will have to wait for the parties affected to make official announcements.

Meanwhile, for those wondering what the CTIAF/Comic Con Cape Town "partnership" was all about, it seems that from 2020 CTIAF will form part of Comic Con Cape Town and will not be a stand-alone event. I'm disappointed to hear this as CTIAF has been a fantastic smaller event that has drawn impressive speakers and delegates and has enabled all the speakers to be accessible to all the attendees, many of whom are students just getting their start in the animation industry. (Plus, The River Club in Observatory has been a great out-of-the-way-but-not-out-of-the-way venue for the event.) My worry is that with a Comic Con Cape Town partnership the fans who worship film and TV actors, rather than the people behind the scenes who craft the productions, will overrun the event and kill the accessible, intimate experience that CTIAF has always offered.

We'll have to wait for a few more official announcements, which I suspect will be coming soon, to find out exactly what's going on behind the scenes. Hopefully it will all resolve amicably for the parties involved and fans and local comic creators will not feel, as they do now, that they will have to "pick a side".



Jean De Wet's New Hauntingly Musical Project

Jean de Wet has quietly been collaborating with game developer Richard Pieterse (who you may know as one third of Team Lazerbeam) on a new game, Haunted Garage, which Pieterse describes as a "sort of toybox of whimsical instruments that you can tinker with to make songs/soundscapes".


YouTube link

Part of the experience is discovering the instruments and then figuring out how to make them work (some might need to be switched on or plugged in, for example). Some have one function while others can be programmed to play a beat or melody.

I've played with an early build of the game and it's really fun to tweak the instruments to adjust the beats and the melodies. What's particularly great about it is that you don't need to have any musical ability at all to make something unique and catchy.

A screenshot from Haunted Garage

The game will be out later this year via Steam and possibly itch.io and the intention is to release updates with new instruments to keep people dabbling and composing in what will become an increasingly intricate and satisfying musical environment that offers more choices and therefore more opportunities for creativity.

Haunted Garage: Instagram
Richard Pieterse: Twitter, YouTube



Tegan Phillips Inspires At TEDxCapeTown

Tegan Phillips, the creator of the Unclipped Adventure series of cartoons, gave a presentation at TEDxCapeTown last year in November about courage and how her fear based inner voice is a little slow to offer her warnings and helpful advice.


YouTube link

The video of that presentation, which includes many cartoons she created specifically for the talk, has now been posted on YouTube.

Phillips starts off the talk by highlighting her adventuring past, which saw her cycling (and to a lesser extent running and swimming) all over Europe, Africa, and New Zealand.

"The way adventure teaches you about courage is by putting you in situations where retreating into your comfort zone is just physically not an option," Phillips says in the video before going on to talk about another kind of courageous leap, in early 2017, to pursue her passion, which was "drawing these really ridiculous comics". She says that at the beginning it was a constant battle between her self-esteem and bank balance fighting to see who could be the lowest and by the end of the year she was ready to go off on another adventure, which had become her new comfort zone, rather than continue with the cartooning.

A screenshot showing artwork from the presentation Tegan Phillips gave at TEDxCapeTown

Consequently she offers a very interesting conclusion regarding a different kind of courage that's not about boldness and daring adventures but rather is more introspective and vulnerable.

Unclipped Adventure: Official Site, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter



Two South African Comics Projects Need Crowdfunding Support

The team behind the Afrikaans graphic novel (and popular theatre production) Die Avonture Van Bal-Oog & Brommel: Moord In Ixiastraat - Swart Streep (David du Plessis), Sjaka S Septembir, and Willem Samuel - are running a crowdfunding campaign on Thundafund to raise money to complete the second graphic novel in the series, Die Avonture Van Bal-Oog & Brommel: Kampsbaai Kaperjolle.


Vimeo link

There are just over two days to go to help this project succeed - it needs a minimum of R20 000 to be funded, with a tipping point of R40 000 for the storyboards to be finalised and a black and white version of the book to be completed, and R100 000 dream goal to finish the production of the 48-page comic in colour and print it. Thirty-seven people are already on board to help and, if the campaign succeeds, they will be entitled to rewards that include signed copies of the printed comic; copies of the tongue-in-cheek "Leather Leidies Kalender", which features the stars of the theatre production in compromising calendar pinups; T-shirts; art prints featuring work by Willem Samuel; and the opportunity to feature as a character in the book.

Pledge here this weekend.

Sjaka S Septembir: Instagram, Twitter
David Du Plessis/Swart Streep: Official Site, Official Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube


The cover and first page of Em Is For Monsters by Stephen Spinas

Stephen Spinas, meanwhile, is running a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for his comic Em is For Monsters, which features a young monster-slaying female protagonist. If you were at EGE, Open Book Comics Fest, and other events last year you would have seen him promoting art and character designs for the comic. (He'll be at a number of events again this month and later this year - see the Events section below for more details on his March appearances.)

Em Is For Monsters will be a 30 page full colour comic and Spinas needs the funding to be able to set aside freelance work so that he can focus completely on finishing the comic, which up until now has been a side project. Backer rewards include digital and printed versions of the comic and merchandise, such as button badges, fridge magnets, bookmarks, posters, and your likeness in the first issue.

Pledge here before the end of the month.

Em Is For Monsters: Indiegogo



News In Brief

Some more news highlights distilled into fewer words.

• At the end of 2018 EWN posted a roundup of the 10 Dr Jack & Curtis cartoons that it considers to be the most popular for 2018 ("popularity" is not defined). Unsurprisingly politics dominates the favourites but a couple of sports cartoons also made the top 10.

House Of Cronies box• Zapiro, ZANews, and Puppet Nation collaborated last year on a tabletop card game, House Of Cronies, a resource-management game that takes inspiration from South Africa's politicians so your best strategy may not be to gather resources, it may be to sabotage the other players with tactics such as "cabinet reshuffled and Hawks investigations". You can buy the game via the official web site or Raru.

• The first issue of Marvel's 10-issue limited series Avengers: No Road Home was released on Wednesday, 13 February 2019. Sean Izaakse has drawn issues 4 (Diamond code JAN190914; released on 6 March 2019), 5 (JAN190916; 13 March 2019), 6 (JAN190918; 20 March 2019); 9 (FEB190792; 10 April 2019); and 10 (FEB190794; 17 April 2019).

The first panel of the comic by Mike Scott• Mike Scott has posted a little comic jam, titled HUZAD, on Instagram. It was a collaboration between himself, James Wolfaardt, and Kayla Archer.

• FanCon Cape Town Comic Con is just over a month away and consequently the exciting news of the local and international guests has started rolling in. So far comics creators Sana Takeda (the Hugo and Eisner award winning illustrator of Monstress), Brian Stelfreeze (the illustrator of Black Panther and more), and Sam Humphries (who has written for Marvel and DC); cosplayers Ani Mia, Becka Noel, and Dhareza Cosplayza; local comics creators Sean Izaakse, Jason Masters, Bill Masuku, Warren Louw, the Kwezi team, Zapiro, and the Bitterkomix team; and local cosplay artist Kinpatsu Cosplay have been announced but there is still time for a few more surprises from the organisers.

• Comic Con Africa is also starting to tease its fans with announcements. Although the 2019 convention is only in September the first international comics guest has been revealed: Will Sliney, who illustrated the special Fantastic Four #1 variant covers that were offered as exclusives for the 2018 convention. International cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp has also been announced.

An Illustration by Rico Schacherl from Where Are You?• Nal'ibali published a story, Where Are You?, which was written by Ann Walton and illustrated by Rico Schacherl, for World Read Aloud Day, which took place on 1 February 2019. The story is available for free (as small PDFs) in South Africa's 11 official languages and the organisation also produced a South African Sign Language version as a video, signed by Zoliswa Flekisi and also featuring Schacherl's illustrations, for kids who have hearing challenges.

• Jarred Cramer has started posting the pages from his comic Super-Dud #4: Achy Breaky Hart Breaker! on Tapas. You will also find issues one to three in Cramer's Tapas library.

The cover of The Asmaul Husna Volume 3 colouring book• Shameema Dharsey launched her latest colouring book, The Asmaul Husna: The 99 Names Of Allah Volume 3 Wondrous Nature, this past weekend at the HalaalGoodsMarket in Johannesburg. It's the third volume in her Asmaul Husna series of adult colouring books and, if I've counted correctly, her seventh book overall. Other colouring books she's produced have included a series for children that focuses on Arabic numbers and letters and English letters.

• Ben G Geldenhuys has launched a Patreon page, as has Nas Hoosen. Please consider supporting their work with a monthly donation and don't forget to support brainwavez.org as well - you can drop a quick tip in the Ko-fi jar. We buy your comics - show us some love in return!



Events

South African Comics Calendar Of EventsMarch has been an incredibly busy month for both comics events and events featuring comics creators and there's still lots to go, starting with this weekend if you're in Cape Town.

• Saturday, 16 March 2019: Japan Day is taking place at the Oude Libertas Slow Market in Stellenbosch and includes Danielle Albertyn (Milo Wildcat) and Readers Den Comic Shop on the programme. The second Open Art Sketch Meet for March will be taking place at The Drawing Room in Observatory in Cape Town. UCT's Genshiken society has partnered with ACGL to host a combined UCON and Afresports event at GrandWest Casino & Entertainment World in Goodwood, Cape Town. The convention is taking place on both Saturday and Sunday and Stephen Spinas, Readers Den Comic Shop, and Neal Strydom have confirmed that they will be attending the event.

• Saturday, 23 March 2019 to Sunday, 24 March 2019: ComicEx Cape Town is back in the city and is also being held at GrandWest Casino & Entertainment World. Stephen Spinas will be at the convention.

• Exhibitions To Visit This Month: The exhibition Still Here Tomorrow To High Five You Yesterday at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town features a mural painted by Loyiso Mkize, as well as, I believe, a cultural showcase that includes an example of published works by Mohale Mashigo. Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi visited Cape Town and created the exhibition The Black & White Cape Town Report, as well as a free zine, at the A4 Arts Foundation in Cape Town. This exhibition has to be seen in person - photographs cannot do the experience of being in the illustrated space (he drew the entire exhibition on the walls) in person. Hero, a single piece exhibition by fine artist Ed Young, features a superhero looking less than heroic on close examination. This exhibition, which is on at a venue in Cape Town that really is open 24 hours a day, is another one that needs to be experienced in person.

• Don't Forget: Die Avonture Van Bal-Oog & Brommel: Kampsbaai Kaperjolle and Em Is For Monsters need your support for their crowdfunding campaigns and submissions are due on Monday, 18 March 2019, for the Creator For Creators grant, which is worth US$30 000 and will enable a comics creator to take a year off to finish a passion project that has been put aside due to the demands of freelance work and life commitments.

• Next Month: Two important comics events are taking place in April: ICON Johannesburg and FanCon Comic Con Cape Town. There will also be smaller events, including Open Art Sketch Meets in Cape Town. Keep an eye on the South African Comics Calendar Of Events for updates and more details.



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Tags: Arts And Culture, Comics, FanCon Cape Town Comic Con, South African Comics/#sacomics


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South African Comics
• All The Coverage: Reviews, art showcases, and news from the world of South African (and occasionally Southern African) comics.
  • News: Full Bleed Competition
  • News: March 2019
  • News: You Died Anthology Submissions
  • News: Creator For Creators Grant
  • Mama Taxi Co-Creator Deni Brown Dies
  • News: Comic Con Africa Comics Launches
  • Comic Con Africa In A Day
  • Mistique Volume II Launch
  • Older Posts

• Calendar Of Events: Find out what's happening in April and beyond.
  • 5-12: Full Bleed Competition
  • 6: Open Art Sketch Meet, CPT
  • 12-13: Clowning Workshop, Stellenbosch
  • 20: Open Art Sketch Meet, CPT
  • 20-22: ICON 2019, JHB
  • 27-29: FanCon Cape Town Comic Con
  • 27-1 May: EB Warehouse Sale, JHB
  • Ongoing: Dan Perjovschi Exhibition, CPT
  • Ongoing: Ed Young's Hero, CPT
  • Ongoing: Loyiso Mkize/Zeitz MOCAA, CPT

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