Let’s create Afro-superheroes

2010-07-24 13:27

When I was a wee lad living in ­Maseru, we had as neighbours an English family with a son about two years younger than me.

I can’t ­remember his name so let’s call him Michael.

One thing I do remember about ‘lil Mike was that he had an amazing comic book ­collection.

For those too young to know – before animated cartoons on the telly, there were comic books for children – not the more detailed and complex graphic novels that exist today.

Anyway, Michael had ­everything from Beano and ­Dennis the Menace to Hot Shot Hamish, Whizzer and Chips, and Roy Of The Rovers.

And the two of us spent many a day sitting in his room, submerged in these.

As I grew older, I got into comics like Archie and TinTin as well as cartoons on TV such as ­He-Man and X-Men, followed by the American classics from ­Batman to Judge Dredd.

I still have a couple of mint copies of Spawn which cost me more than a DVD or CD.

In the film Unbreakable, ­Samuel L Jackson’s character ­unpacks some comic sub-plots, how they reflect society and the significance of the superhero – how the hero is illustrated ­versus the villain and the ­nuances involved.

As children, we look at these characters and aspire to be like them in the simplest sense, hence my son walking around in his Superman outfit with a ­towel over his shoulders.

There are lessons learnt and strong principles that we absorb as children.

This is why I have always lamented the virtual ­non-existence of comic books and cartoons/animated series ­featuring African superheroes.

The Japanese-created industry of manga and anime has taken the world by storm with a range of characters that ­relate to or ­reflect their society.

As technology starts to reach further into our lives, there is a great opportunity to expand into areas such as animation, ­illustration and storytelling.

The genre has evolved over the years but I truly believe there is space for comics that unfold on the African continent with heroes that reflect us and our lives.

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