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COMIX, BRU! (article first published : 2004-09-24)

The NSA Gallery’s Mezzanine and Park Gallery are currently hosting two comic exhibitions, Comics Brew and Comix, Bru!.

Comix, Bru! is an exhibition of Cartoons, Comics & Comix by New South African Cartoonists compiled and curated by Andy Mason. The event also launches the publication Mamba Comics No. 3.

Comix Bru! is a local riposte to the international Comics Brew exhibition in the NSA’s main gallery, showcasing the new comic art talent that has blossomed in South Africa since 1994. None of the artists on the show was publishing comics before that date. Hosted by the Durban Cartoon Project, Comix, Bru! features about 25 artists from Durban, Stellenbosch, Cape Town and Johannesburg. While most of the work is in the form of comics, the show also features South Africa’s two most impressive new editorial cartoonists, Brandan Reynolds (Business Day) and Sifiso Yallo (ThisDay).

Many of the Durban and Johannesburg artists on the show are also featured in Mamba Comix No.3, which will be launched at Comix, Bru! in Durban, and again at the Cape Town exhibition.

The Durban Cartoon Project (DCP) is based at and sponsored by Artworks Communications in Durban. The DCP holds an annual 12-week comic art workshop, run by Andy Mason, and the best of the comic art produced in the workshop is published in the DCP’s annual publication, Mamba Comix. This year sees the third DCP workshop and the third edition of Mamba Comix. Work that didn’t make it into the magazine can be seen on the exhibition.

It is said that comic art is 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration, and so the Durban exhibition will feature an Inspiration Wall and a Perspiration Wall, opposite each other in the NSA Gallery’s Multimedia Room. A Public Comic Jam was painted directly onto the Inspiration Wall on the opening night of the show, and will continue for the duration of the exhibition (after which it will be painted over). Leading Durban artists have been asked to pull in and daub their bit during the three-week exhibition period and the entire process will be documented.

The Perspiration Wall will demonstrate the processes of comic art, with a display of hundreds of drawings of cartoons and comics in progress. A section of the wall will be set aside for aspiring cartoonists not featured on the show to add their drawings to the exhibition.

Graphic fiction is the cutting edge literary form of the 21st century, and the young stylists of Mamba Comix are rewriting the codes and conventions of South African literary culture. Enough of that miserable postcolonial claptrap! Mamba culture has arrived!

Highlights of Mamba Comix No. 3 are “Salem Brownstone”, a 16 page horror extravaganza by the enigmatic Nikhil Singh, written by John Dunning, and Soft Serve, a mysterious detective yarn by Rico, written by Pieter de Wet. N.D. Mazin reveals all in The Legend of Blue Mamba, and Jason Bronkhorst, Brandan Reynolds, Sifiso Yallo, Mike Scott, Brendon Hayes, Rob Hooper, Chris Mugnai, Tyron love, Luke Molver and Themba Siwela all let rip with blistering attacks on sanity and good taste. Newcomers Gina Vee, Mdu Ntuli, Wendz, Thoba Bhengu, Nic Human, Stuart Braidwood, Thabani Gumede and Darren Higginson stake their claim amongst the ever-expanding community of local comix creators.

The zine also digs up some lost comix from the dark decades to reveal the Unknown Zapiro, hosts a Q&A with the controversial editors of the lurid femzine “Stripshow”, and reviews the latest and best international graphic novels, including Joe Sacco’s “The Fixer”, Adrian Tomine’s “Summer Love” and Neil Gaiman’s “Endless Nights”.

Mamba Comix No. 3 is published in a deluxe square-back edition of 80 pages, printed in black & white on quality cartridge paper with a full-colour cover. It is available from Exclusive Books, Adams and other selected bookshops for around R70.

The exhibition closes on October 3 at noon.




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