Since the glory days of Bitterkomix, Conrad Botes has been one of South Africa’s most persistently provocative and entertaining artists, using the style and conventions of the comic book to comment on a host of the issues that beset our society. THE EROTIC DRAWINGS OF CONRAD BOTES, inevitably, becomes a comment on censorship (several printers refused to print it, and his usual gallery wouldn’t show the work), as well as a sly demonstration of how pornography and masculinity are instruments in a deadly struggle to warp all of our minds. He also draws a mean picture.
KING SHAKA: ZULU LEGEND by Luke Molver (Story Press Africa) is the follow-up to the first volume in this graphic novel sequence, Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince. They are illustrated in a bold, rich, exciting way, and tell the story of the Zulu leader in a new way. Obviously they are fictionalised, but they are based on the latest and best research (such as Dan Wylie’s) to reconstruct and retell the life story of this key historical figure. They also include educational notes and indications of where to go for further study.
Political cartoonist Zapiro, now publishing his work at the Daily Maverick, has been South Africa’s graphic conscience for about three decades now. And he’s not flagging. His latest annual collection of the year’s cartoons, WHICH WAY IS UP? (Jacana), covers a year in which Ramaphoria rose and fell. His cover image sums up present issues: President Cyril Ramaphosa, who, it is hoped, will clean out our Augean stables, and ANC secretary general Ace Magasule, accused of much corruption and power-mongering when he was Free State premier. Yet they’re joined at the waist. Zapiro flawlessly puts his finger on such faultlines.