The largest multi-genre pop-culture and gaming festival on the continent, Comic Con Africa, is scheduled to take place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec from September 22 through 25, promising a memorable experience with an exceptional lineup of African performers.
Bill Masuku, a writer and comic book artist who has been nominated for a Nommo Award, spoke with IOL Entertainment before to the festival. “Welcome to Dead World,” “Captain South Africa,” and “Razor-Man” were all created by the Zimbabwean-born artist.
Masuku has been going to Comic Con Africa ever since he received a “life-changing email” inviting him to the event in 2018.
He was so overcome with emotion and imposter syndrome at the moment that it took him more than an hour merely to calm down and respond to the email.
He is happy that he accepted the invitation because since then, a number of doors have opened for him.
He said, “I’ve had opportunities to exhibit my work at DC Comics’ international event DC FanDome, guest lecture the Wits University Digital Arts course on Afro Manga (African Comics Inspired by the Japanese Industry), and I’ve been able to get in a steady income through commissions and collaborations with other artists exhibiting.”
Due to constraints on huge meetings, Comic Con Africa had to take place online in 2020, but now fans will be able to meet together in person.
Masuku discussed the advantages of Comic Con Africa as a means of reviving the sector.
Speaking with other exhibitors, he learned that it was typical for them to spend the money they generated from book sales into larger print runs or the hiring of helpers, which increased the frequency at which content could be produced.
Masuku points out that a variety of measures can be used to resuscitate the business, even though festivals like this one are a fantastic place to start.
“Most people underrate the influence of journalism; having a reliable source highlight a book or local artist lends credence to their work.”
“The same can be done for the digital arts (animation, game design, comic books, etc.) where there are devoted sports journalists and those following politics, which then increases the pipeline from persons training to joining the job.”
He added, “I guess the other idea that comes to mind would be having the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture give validity to local storytelling by having graphic novels in schools, which will ultimately lead to better representations of African characters, higher literacy, opportunities to refurbish historical events, and all of these books become source material for movie and series adaptations.”
Masuku is eager to visit Comic Con Africa later this September so he can get his hands on some new “Manga” and some local and international comic novels.
Masuku says that meeting Netflix celebrities is another reason to go, with actors from “Stranger Things” and “13 Reasons Why,” among others, planning to attend Comic Con Africa.
Contestants dressed as their favourite comic book characters compete in cosplay, which is typically a major highlight of Comic Con. One contender donned the Razor Man costume from Masuku that year.