July 2008 -

The art of comic books is faring quite well in Africa. Comic book artists are active from Morocco to South Africa. Festivals are organised and magazines are being published everywhere. Popular comic strips such as the satirical Gbichi have a weekly circulation of 20,000 copies. Still most draftsmen do not live from their art. They frequently work as painters, graphic designers, cartoonists or illustrators, as well.


A unique overview of African comic book art, with a database of 140 comic strip artists from all African countries, was recently published on the www.picha.nl site. Joost Pollmann, director of Stripdagen Haarlem [Haarlem Comic Book Days] and Alain Brézault, a connoisseur of French language comic strips, compiled this database. African comic strip culture has never before been inventoried in such a systematic manner. The database is set up quite cleverly and looks great. If you click on a country, a list of biographies of comic strip artists from that country appears.

In addition to the biographies, there are photos of these artists’ works that can be enlarged with a mouse click so that the (French) text can be read. This provides a good image of the different styles and themes: from political satire to pure entertainment and education. The web site has a separate section containing educational comic strips, which frequently deal with aids, but also deal with subjects such as illegal immigration, conflict management and nature conservation. Strips provide NGOs an excellent medium for reaching a large audience of young people.

The quality of most of these comic strips is high. One striking aspect is the considerable influence of European and, in particular, French draftsmen, especially in the application of the 'pure line'. One example is the work of the popular Barly Baruti from Chad. The links to these draftsmen’s blogs and digital strip pages is quite handy. If you want to learn more about African comic strips, you can find the answers to most of your questions on the FAQ page: from the role of comic strips in African society to a 'standard profile' of the African strip cartoonist.


Work by 19 African comic strip artists is on display until August 31, 2008 in the Afrikamuseum in Berg en Dal. Picha is supported by  NCDO.