Zimbabwe born Comic book artist and writer Bill Masuku credits Comic Con Africa for opening opportunities for him

The Zimbabwe born artist is the creator of “Razor-Man”, “Welcome to Dead World” and “Captain South Africa”.

Comic Con Africa is set to take place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec from September 22 - 25, promising an unforgettable experience with an amazing line-up of African artists who will showcase their talent at the continent’s largest multi-genre pop-culture and gaming festival.

Masuku has been attending Comic Con Africa since 2018 after getting a "life changing email" inviting him to the festival.

Bill Masuku
Bill Masuku

It took him over an hour just to settle down and respond to the email as he was overwhelmed with emotion and admitted to imposter syndrome creeping in, at the time.

“I've been able to guest lecture the Wits University Digital Arts course on Afro Manga (African Comics inspired by the Japanese industry), showcase my work at DC Comics' international event DC FanDome, and I've been able to get in a steady income through commissions and collaborations with other artists exhibiting,” he shared.

In 2020, Comic Con Africa had to take place virtually due to restrictions on large gatherings but now Comic Con lovers will finally be able to gather together in person.

Masuku shared his thoughts on why Comic Con Africa is a great way to revive the industry.

"It’s not only a meeting place of buyers and sellers but also talent and investors. Having spoken to other exhibitors, it's common for the sales made on their books to be reinvested into larger print runs or hiring assistants, speeding up the frequency that content can be created," he explained.

While having festivals such as this is good starting ground to help revive the industry, Masuku notes that a combination of things can be done.

"Most people underestimate the power of journalism - having a trusted entity spotlight a book or local creator gives them legitimacy to their craft.

“Where there are dedicated sports journalists, and those keeping track of politics, the same can be done for the digital arts (animation, game design, comic books, and so on), which then strengthens the pipeline from people training to joining the workforce.

"I guess the other idea at the top of my head 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 depictions of African characters, higher literacy, opportunities to refurbish historical events, all of these books become source material for movie and series adaptations. The possibilities are endless," he pointed out.

Masuku cannot wait to get his hands on new “Manga” and some international and local comic books when he attends Comic Con Africa later this September.

"There has always been something timeless about comics for me but I also could be holding the next big Netflix/Live Action adaptation when I pick up a new book and that makes me feel far more connected to the stories.“

With several Netflix stars such as "13 Reasons Why" actor Ross Butler and "Stranger Things" actor Jamie Campbell Bower expected to attend Comic Con Africa, Masuku adds that meeting them is another reason to attend.

Cosplay is always a big highlight of Comic Con with contestants dressed up as their favourite comic book characters. In 2016, one contestant dressed up as Masuku's character Razor Man.

He admitted that when people hear about his comic ideas, he is often met with “lukewarm and cautious curiosity” reactions, so someone being able to breathe life into his vision was a heart-warming experience.

“Seeing someone being inspired enough to craft my 2D idea into wearable appreciation was more than heart-warming, it reminded me that even if the likes on posts aren't high, what I do matters."

Masuku is also working on a personal initiative to lower the barriers of entry for those hoping to step into a career in comic books.

"With Volume one of ‘Captain South Africa’ nearing completion, from volume two onwards I'd like to hire new writers, artists, colourists, graphic designers, copywriters, and editors.

“The goal is to do a combination of training and collaboration to teach those interested how best to get their foot in the door, giving them as polished a portfolio as possible so they have higher chances of being hired by African or international comic book publishers," he concluded.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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