Sports Comics from Africa

Khadija African comics sports comics on the zebra comics blog

In the world of entertainment, sports occupy a position that few other domains can even dream of occupying. From football (soccer), to basketball, passing through tennis and cycling, professional sports continue to sustain a lot of attention from fans across the world. This is particularly the case because sports are very entertaining and they keep viewers glued whenever they are staged. Sports therefore constitute an interesting place to draw inspiration from when it comes to creating comics.

When the theme of sports is thrown on the table when comics are discussed, there are usually some key names that come to mind. Without question, Japanese manga and Franco Belgian comics constitute the majority of sports comics publications out there. IPs like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Blue Lock, Eyeshield 21, Diamond No Ace, Hajime No Ippo, Haikyuu, Real, Ashita No Joe, Aoashi, Asterix Et Obelix Aux Jeux Olympiques, Les Schtroumpfs Olympiques, Le Sommet Des Dieux, Thorgal: Les Archers and Ping Pong have been wonderful creations, enriching the sports comics catalogue from Japan and Europe.

This, however, does not mean that American comics have nothing to show as far as sports comics are concerned. American creators may not be very keen on creating sports comics as much as their Japanese and Franco-Belgian counterparts do, but they still spew publications that are revered across the globe. Some notable American sports comics include: Golem’s Mighty Swing, Check, Please!, Fantasy Sports, Big Nate: Game On, Dragon Hoops, Sports Is Hell, Michael Jordan: Bull On Parade, Cheer Up: Love And Pompoms and Spinning.

As far as webcomics or webtoons are concerned, there is a litany of sports comics available online. The genre has evolved to include fantasy depictions of popular sport, thrilling fans of the genre across the globe. Some notable mentions include: Tweener, Build Up, Latent Blue, Attaque, Is This The Korean Wrestling Club?, Fist Of Legend, Into The Net, Green Boy, Backcourt, Wind Breaker and The Boxer.

From the above, it is clear that sports constitute a central theme in comics from across the world. From American comics, to Japanese Manga, passing through Franco-Belgian Comics and Webtoons, there are a plethora of sports comics to enjoy online.

Now, since this article is based on sports comics from Africa, the question that one will normally ask is: are there sports comics from Africa?

The answer is a resounding Yes. There are indeed sports comics created by comics creators from Africa. The issue, however, is that the number of creations, compared to those mentioned above, is still very low. African creators seem to focus on other themes like politics, war and romance more than they do with sports. Nevertheless, there exist sports comics from Africa. The following are notable examples you can check out.

1. KHADIJA

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She wants to become a professional footballer, but her community frowns upon it. Khadija Mahamat will have to defy faith and tradition, in order to rise to the highest heights of football.

Her journey takes her down the path of a religious and cultural dilemma. Wading through the murky waters of the game, and the halals and harams of her faith, she strives to sign her name in the annals of football. Khadija is an exciting comic which blends sports, religion and tradition to create an exciting piece. It was created by Njoka Suyru and is available on the Zebra Comics App and website.

 

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This comic tells the incredible story of a kid from New Bell, a working-class neighbourhood in Douala, Cameroon, who became one of the best footballers in the world. Samuel is a quiet, well-behaved and obedient little boy, except for one thing, his dream, his passion, his ambition: football. He is interested in nothing but playing inter-quarter matches. He has built up a solid reputation, so much so that he is nicknamed “Petit Milla” after the famous Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla. But his parents don’t want to hear about it, because they consider that he is wasting his time playing football. This comic was published by Dagan Editions.

 

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This graphic novel revisits the exploits of the indomitable lions of Cameroon (Cameroon’s national football team) at the different FIFA World Cups where they were a participant between 1982 to 2010. This collection is very peculiar in the fact that it focuses on the goals that the team scored during the 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. Depicting these goals in comic book format makes it even more enjoyable as Ezzat El Dine’s art brings these goals to life in ways that other formats cannot. This comic is published by Editions Akoma Mba.

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Supa Strikas is a pan-African association football-themed comic, about the titular football team dubbed “the world’s greatest.” Despite their enormous talent, the players must adapt in a game where being the best is only the beginning and where the opposition is always full of surprises. The Supa Strikas comic prints 1.4 million copies per month in 16 countries making it one of the most popular sports comics in the world.  Supa Strikas was founded by Andrew Smith, Oliver Power, Lee Hartman, and Alex Kramer. The comic series was first published in South Africa in 2000. It has also been adapted into a very successful TV show and its characters have been developed into other merchandise. As of 2019, the franchise is currently owned by Moonbug Entertainment.

Sports comics, like their other counterparts, are very popular across the world. Japanese, Franco-Belgian and American comics take the lead in this niche market which is growing by the day. However, new frontiers like webcomics and webtoons are also showing off great sports comics to readers from across the world. In all these, African creators have also created comics that are gaining interest on the market. The only issue here is that the number of publications of African sports comics are too few. This is however curious, given the fact that there is a huge interest in sports on the mother continent. So, this may be a call on African creators to step up their game and produce more sports comics which clearly have a market.

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