Sally here with comics by Zimbabwean cartoonists and writers Bill Masuku and Amanda Chaniwa, plus new work from Mohammed Sabaaneh.
I found this write-up on the Zimbabwe comics scene, from back in March on Hyperallergic. It is an interview with Bill Masuku, who created the characters/comics Black Zeus (with Dananayi Muwanigwa), Razor-Man, Arcadia Knights, and more. In his writing and comics Masuku can’t avoid social justice issues, and as a Zimbabwean his perspective on the industry is particularly unique. There are socioeconomic issues that he is forced to deal with – for example, “Because of economic sanctions, Zimbabwean artists can’t use services like PayPal or Kickstarter.” The avenues to funding and visibility that so many cartoonists rely on are crossed off the list for cartoonists in his homeland. Just like his character Razor-Man, however, Masuku operates under “the Zimbabwean idea that no matter your situation, you can “make a plan.” Every Zimbabwean knows that catchphrase. It reflects the idea that no matter how bad things get, you’ll make it to the other side.”
He also comments on the idea that the world needs more black people representing themselves, but not in isolation. There can’t be this tokenism, one character representing “an entire race on their own.”
“Hyperallergic: Why do you think it’s important that we have Zimbabwean comic books specifically? How can Zimbabwean artists address the social issues Zimbabweans face in a way international artists can’t?
Bill Masuku: It all comes back to context. Because of intersectionality, race, gender, and class are all big things that affect us globally. But then colorism, tribalism, and the intricacies of intersectionality come into play when you’re in a different socioeconomic location, or even just a different geographical location. As a writer, it’s crucial to be able to raise awareness about these issues at home. For example, there’s no one talking about being gay in a country where that’s illegal, and what actually happens to you when you come out to your parents. When someone who is not from here [writes about that], they’ll miss the subtle nuances that make the issue relevant to someone who is here and going through it. Having an open-minded writer who talks about these issues creates hope for the reader.“
Bill Masuku collaborated with Amanda Chaniwa on the comic Drama Mama. She talks about the comic and her hopes for the scene in Zimbabwe in the video below. Chaniwa is the first professional female comic book writer from Zimbabwe.
In the Forward to the White and Black collection by Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh shown above, “veteran American political cartoonist Seth Tobocman notes the influence of Picasso and Braque on Sabaaneh’s work, and asks: “Can there be an accurate depiction of an insane situation? Why should we draw in perspective when the world has lost its perspective? When reality becomes bizarre social realism gives way to social surrealism.” ”
Sabaaneh published the book earlier this year – you can get a copy HERE.
More recently, he’s turned his attention and his cartoons toward Trump – not surprisingly. You can read more about Sabaaneh’s life and often controversial work over on Al-Monitor. His most recent strips and caricatures can be seen on the website of the daily paper al-Haya al-Jadida.
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