March 5, 2008

Comic Books and Development

I wonder if there is any connection between economic development and indigenous comic book creation?  Aya is penned by Marguerite Abouet and set in her native home of Abidjan, Ivory Coast and now available in an English translation in the U.S.  At what point in the economic development of a country do "fringe" artistic pursuits like comic books/graphic novels become economically viable?  While working with youth/children in Botswana I noticed first hand that they are just as likely to doodle fantastical fight scenes and explosions in the margins as westerners.  

This one probably doesn't signal that there is such a market in Ivory Coast as I'm sure that the bulk of sales took place in Europe and now America.  Are there indigenous comics being produced and marketed in more established African markets like South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria?  Or are comic book writers and artists part of the brain drain as well (Abouet herself now lives in France.)?  Are there viable African super heroes?  I don't really get a good sense of things from either here or here.  



Random African said...

Oddly enough, the comic book industry was bigger in the 70's and the 80's.

Don't expect many super-heros though. For some reason, everything I've read tend to be like "Aya". Realist humour and all that.

j said...

RA - interesting, thanks for the link. I haven't lived in Africa for 6-7 years but that seemed to be my sense as well and I was always curious as to why there weren't more hero mags being produced regionally. There were very talented artists around and there was the incredibly rich cultural/historical well to draw from for inspiration and character creation so I always assumed it was a lack of infrastructure and markets.

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