At the Africa Writes Festival this July in London, the panel “How To Reach the Readers: Publishing in Africa” discussed the various difficulties of publishing on the African continent. The panelists optimistically pointed out potential solutions to the many obstacles faced by African writers, but no one would blame you for thinking this is barely a context in which comic books would thrive. You would, however, be wrong. Events from Lagos Comic Con to Comexposed Harare, the Zimbabwean comic convention, are a testament to the existence of a real market for comic books on the African continent. And if Africans are reading comics, you can be certain they’re creating them, too.

Kugali Magazine African comics
Fantasy adventure KARIBA takes inspiration from the legend surrounding the building of the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Image courtesy of Blues Forest Collective.

As you can imagine, Marvel and DC have yet to see the benefits of scouring the Swahili coast for new material. So how do African comic book creators publish their work? Crowdfunding sites have been a great help to the African comic book industry. Roye Okupe’s Youneek Studios is one example of a successful and popular African studio that funds its comics through Kickstarters, and supporters are not disappointed with the outcome of their work. A lot of creators today also self-publish, printing a few hundred comics and handling sales and distribution themselves. Things are definitely looking up for them, with the creation of various companies and collectives over the past few years. The likes of Urban Design Kings and Vortex Inc. are dedicated to helping African artists showcase their talent and their cultures.

Kugali Magazine African comics
The highly successful E.X.O. THE LEGEND OF WALE WILLIAMS from YouNeek Studios was funded through Kickstarter. Image courtesy of YouNeek Studios.

LISTEN: Want more great African comics? Check out our podcast discussion of AYA: LIFE IN YOP CITY!

Kugali and Kugali Magazine

Enter Kugali, the ultimate pan-African comic book database. Kugali is a relative newcomer on the scene. Founded only in 2016, it thrives on how accessible it makes African comics for those interested, and how easy it makes it for creators to list their work where those interested will find it. Browse by categories ranging from African mythology to urban fantasy, with plenty of free content available, too. Kugali also showcases African artwork, has a website dedicated to African games, and keeps you updated on all aspects of the Afro-geeksphere through its social media (@kugalimedia).

Kugali Magazine African comics
Kugali’s logo. Image courtesy of Kugali.

Kugali is launching Issue 1 of Kugali Magazine after the success of the pilot issue. The publication is a monthly anthology with 60+ pages of comics, artwork, and exclusive content. Issue 1, with cover artwork illustrator Juni Ba, contains MUMU JUJU from Nigeria, GARANYAZHA from Zimbabwe, and a third comic which will be a surprise (although, for those of you up for the challenge, there’s a clue in the cover artwork below). Both issues are available online and in print form. Kugali Magazine is perfect for those wanting an introduction to the world of African comics as well as those familiar with the industry and wanting to see what else may be out there.

Kugali Magazine African comics
Unfinalised cover artwork for KUGALI MAGAZINE Issue 1. Image courtesy of Kugali.

Final Thoughts on African Comics

In short, African comic book creators are asserting themselves in the global industry. Because of their comics, there are new aesthetics and stories that the world of comics has never seen before. These creators are here to stay, whether or not they hold the world’s attention for long because the demand for homegrown content is present across the African continent. Africans love comics. However, they are tired of only seeing their cultures portrayed in watered down, caricatured and offensive ways, if at all. They’ve found their solution.

We would like to extend our gratitude to our guest author, Nyasha, for this wonderful post. To learn more about Kugali, check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, and their store. You can also order Issue 0 of Kugali Magazine here. On September 10th, Kugali will open a Patreon page, where among other rewards is a subscription to Kugali Magazine. Make sure to check it out then!

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