Towards the end of 2016 Enigma Comix Africa went from a sole creator to a handful of talents working on multiple titles. A simple but effective look into the practice of collaboration and collaborative spirit that has been missing from comic creation throughout southern Africa as we know it. Creative teams working on a single book aside, it opened up a door that had all been forgotten about in a world of super hero team ups on the silver screen.
In terms of the Zimbabwean comic book scene, one of the oldest and most notable characters is Umzingeli The African Bounty Huntress she stands as one of the founding pillars that served as the spring board for what would become the comic book buzz, conventions and digital art debates going forward to present day. Featuring in news, countless conversations about superheroism in Africa, headlining on Al Jazeera and eventually getting her own solo published book by Enigma Comix Africa. She is without a doubt an icon for the comics that are being created as we speak in southern Africa to aspire to.
A different character that was created in the wake of the comic book boom, standing as one of the youngest intellectual properties in Zimbabwean comic books is Razor-Man. Holding the belt for longest running comic book series, appearing in several news publications as well as being selected for publication in the Kugali comic book anthology, the character is fast growing in popularity and with time will reach the status of Umzingeli.
What is fascinating and important to note is that these characters created by different people, set in their own worlds and ultimately the protagonists of their own stories presently exist within the same universe. When Enigma Comix Africa evolved from a single creator, their creative potential escalated almost exponentially with the possibility of these two heroes meeting. For scale of reference, this is when King Kong met Godzilla for the first time and more similarly when Batman met Superman all those year ago in their first cross over publication.
The nature of this meet up is dissimilar from other comic books across Africa. This is because, using Nigeria as an example as it stands as the biggest creative hub for comic books on the continent, these publishing houses had rolled out several characters at once. Their presence within each others’ stories didn’t come with any doubts. While this makes for easier story telling, it doesn’t come with the spark of something brand new.
This absorption of intellectual properties is not unfamiliar territory but does propose uncharted waters for newly established and developing markets in the field. Sharper minds would see this as an opportunity to invest in characters created locally, what’s a complicated scribble with notes in the back of a book today could become a headlining success tomorrow.
The first crossover between Razor-Man and Umzingeli arrives in Razor-Man V3 issue 13, set to become an instant collectors issue.