Most people know me from my comic book Razor-Man, but that’s not the first comic book I published. In 2013, I was still studying at Rhodes University in South Africa where the comic book scene was still grassroots but the political scene was exploding. It wasn’t an opportunity that I could afford to miss.
I began drafting the script and storyboards for a politically centered super hero comic set in none other than South Africa. While I was still new to comic book writing, I had enough drive to power through many growing pains in the creative development process which was all alien to me; churning out what, by current comic book standards was a pretty half decent script. The problem was that I was not an artist but needed the book to come out. And it did!
The story focused on the elected super cop Captain South Africa tackling crime and poverty facing the country. The run was less than brief, but stands as canon for the events that followed.
Forward to 2016, where I was in full force with comic books and the comic book industry not only in Zimbabwe but across Africa. I asked an artist whom I connected with earlier to do some promo art. When the poster hit the convention it was very clear that this was a new and different Captain. She was kitted out in a suit similar to the original’s. Sporting the South African flag colours on her chest with pride.
The new Captain came with new questions: why is she a woman? what happened to the dude? why are you writing about a South African character when you are Zimbabwean? Isn’t this a knock off of Captain America?
I found some of these questions really… odd. While other questions were perfectly rational. So I figured I’d answer them to clear the confusion in preparation for the release of the next book.
why is she a woman?
This is one of those questions that shook me, because I was unprepared. I’m not sure what the foundation of ideologies was behind the question but it some how became a FAQ. The simple answer is why not? Super heroes, hell any form of story telling is a space for representation. But deeper than that her personality is one that is a mix of many strong and opinionated women whom I came to respect through my university career.
what happened to the dude?
Quick answer, you’ll have more fun reading when the book debuts at the UCT Comic Con – UCON in January 2018. When I originally created the character I always intended for it to be a title that can be passed on. In my mind the stories, character and world ages. So it would go without a stretch of imagination to say that when the title is inherited at some point it won’t be by a man.
why are you writing about a South African character when you are Zimbabwean?
Another one of those head turning questions. In person I’d defend myself by giving many many examples of the divergence between author’s nationality and location of story. But if I take the question to mean “with the severe lack of Zimbabwean comic book titles why would I choose to make a foreign based one?”. Then I would say that I would not have drafted or imagined up the world of Captain SA without having lived in their borders for 4 years. The inspiration came from experience and real world events. And there’s more room to craft a political drama.
Isn’t this a knock off of Captain America?
In person I would retort by saying that there’s also a Captain France, and Britain, and so on and so forth. When it comes to naming characters, especially super hero monikers I want to strike a balance between corny, relatable and practical. The other option was Major Mzansi and I just couldn’t even. So really, it is corny because it’s Captain insert-country-here. But on the relatable and practical sides of it the character in themselves will become a beacon that clears any doubt or misinformation. What I mean by that is, the character will be internationally recognized as South African with no doubts. Often comic book characters from Africa are lumped together as Nigerian (due to the sheer size and influence in the comic community), and so it’s somewhat imperative that we do in fact have a character that can proudly raise the flag of each country.
The hope is that people love her and love her differences from her predecessor(s) when the book drops next year.