Sally here with a look at the work of Mogorosi Motshumi, and a comic by Kyle Baker, plus the final list of entries for the 2017 Comics Workbook Composition Competition.
The page above is from part 1 of the 360 Degrees Trilogy by Mogorosi Motshumi. He is the first black South African to make a long form comic. The first part of the trilogy is The Initiation, which came out last year. Mogorosi Motshumi has led an eventful and difficult life, and comics have always been a part of how he survived. Now in his 60s and fighting failing eyesight and other illnesses, he is trying to finish as much work as he can. There’s a recent article in The New Yorker about him, providing an overview of his life and work to date.
“It was around this time (the age of 9) that he started reading comic books that his older brother brought home from high school. Though some were local comics written in the colonial language of Afrikaans, he preferred American superhero comics, like “Spider-Man.” “These comics, they always had solutions,” he told me. In a comic book, evil exists, but justice prevails. Villains rise up, but heroes rise to meet them. “That is the light that you’re looking for,” he said. When policemen persecuted the Hulk, he felt vindicated in his hatred of authority. “He’d run and run and run until he could run no more, and he’d start to fight back,” Motshumi told me. “That was my kind of world.” He taught himself to draw in his grandmother’s backyard, tracing characters in the sand with his fingers.“
I’m looking for some of Motshumi’s Sloppy strips, a monthly four page comic about township life that he is best known for in South Africa, but meanwhile here’s an interesting article from 2012 about someone’s week-long trip through South Africa’s underground comics scene. The author meets Motshumi, but mostly pals around with N.D. Mazin (who also goes by Andy Mason) who is one of the cornerstones of the underground comics scene in that country. Mazin actually co-created Sloppy with Mitshumi, and it appeared in the Learn and Teach magazine…and THERE, I’ve found a strip:
This comic appeared in the Learn and Teach magazine in 1986, and for context here on this blog are a number of other entries that come from the magazine at that time.
I pulled this comic by Kyle Baker out of a dollar longbox the other day and was delighted to peruse it. Bummer that the cassette tape it once came with wasn’t around to listen to! The comic came out in 1994 and was a collaboration between Kyle Baker, hip-hop legend KRS-One, and Marshall Chess. The cassette was a live performance of the story, and included some original tracks as well. The comic itself is about a rapper named Big Joe Krash, and his younger friends Malcolm and Minasha, who are struggling with school on a number of levels. The message of the comic is about “breaking the chains” – using education and knowledge of culture and history to free the mind.
I love Kyle Baker’s artwork – his lines and coloring always grabs me – so the real pleasure in this comic comes from that of course!
You’re supposed to turn the page whenever you see/hear the word “WORD!” down in the corner. Fun.
I found this Modern Masters Volume 20 preview on Issuu which is all about Kyle Baker and includes a lengthy interview with him. They call it a “preview” but you can pretty much read the whole thing online if your vision is good enough! Check it out HERE.
The Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017 has ended.
HERE is a complete list of the comics entered into the competition – 43 entries in total this year! Thanks to all the folks who entered – the winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned!
Suzy and Cecil – 9-7-2017 – by Gabriella Tito
Joanie and Jordie – 9-7-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio