Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Naruto, Bleach, One Punch Man, Dragon Ball-Z are all popular sequential storytelling properties that have permeated geek culture in Africa. But none of these were created by Africans or even people of African descent. Which begs the question, African comics? Are there African comics, are there people from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and all over the continent creating their own superheroes and making sequential art?
The fact that you’re on this page already answers your question. But if you’re still wondering, yes, there are in fact, comics being made in Africa, by Africans and for the world.
It’s hard to pinpoint when comics as we know it started in Africa. But it’s safe to say that the current crop of comics was revitalized thanks in large part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the penetration of Asian comics (especially Japanese manga) on the continent. Before this “revitalization” of comics, however, comics thrived in the political satire domain as well as in the educational space.
It was and still is common to see satiric political cartooning in newspapers. Illustrators like Frank Odoi in Kenya created comic strips that spoke to prevailing issues. In Nigeria, Wale Adenuga is often credited as a pioneer of comics. He started off with Ikebe Super which introduced characters such as Papa Ajasco. Pioneers such as Wale Adenuga and Frank Odoi and comics like Supa Strikas set the stage for later creators like Yamakasi Kiyindou, Salim Busuru, Ayodele Elegba, Ibrahim Ganiyu and more to also get into comics.
African Comic Influences
African comics are a unique blend of heavily African influences (design and storytelling), Japanese Manga, Belgian/French comics and American superhero comics. This helps African comics tell fresh stories that tap into all the positives of other successful comics industries. These influences range from Superhero stories to slice-of-life comics. As deeply spiritual peoples, you’ll find that many comics tow the fantasy, supernatural route, often bringing revered gods, ancestors and spirits to the comic pages in new and exciting reimaginings. You’ll find a glorious collection of most of these comics right here on Vortex247.com at the price of a coffee (it’s just $3/month).
Publishers of African Comics
The publishing industry in Africa is largely independent creator-owned with the exception of a few companies. Some of these exceptions are Vortex 247 from Nigeria (which hosts the largest collection of comics from Africa on this website), Zebra Comics (from Cameroon), Enigma Comics (from Zimbabwe), Comic Republic (from Nigeria), Strika Entertainment from South Africa (which publishes the popular, 14-year old Supa Strikas comics) and Kugali (from Nigeria).
Our mandate at Vortex 247 is to export African culture to the world. To do that, we’ve created what we like to call, the Netflix of African Comics. Vortex247 is a digital library of the best African comics from publishers all over the continent. These include Kiro’o Games, Avandu Vosi, AfroTokyo and much more. At Vortex, we believe that the only way to push African comics to the world is to uplift each other. Which is why even as a publisher, we’re curating and promoting comics from other publishers who would typically be competitors.
You can find a full list of all our publishers here.
Digital vs Offline Footprint of African Comics
Interestingly, South Africa which has more exposure to Western comic markets and opportunities (such as hosting Comic-Con Africa) has a limited online footprint with its comics. South Africa instead focuses heavily on physical copies. The opposite is true in other African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, where digital is the most visible channel for African comic publishers.
African Comics Genres
African comics explore a range of topics and effortlessly flow into other genres. According to Squid Magazine:
African comics are dominated by the fantasy genre, with many creators playing with the continent’s rich supernatural legacy. Comics such as Eru, and Aje by Comic Republic are typical examples of this. Science-fiction and superhero comics are another popular genre, with the bulk of superhero comics incorporating a lot of fantasy as well.
The most popular genres in African Comics in no particular order:
Examples of African Comics