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SA artists for Comic Con

Reed Exhibitions Africa, ReedPOP and VS Gaming have announced the local team of comic book artists that are set to set Comic Con Africa 2018 alight.

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Comic Con Africa will be hosting some of the local comic book artists at the first African edition of this international phenomenon. The team of local artists that are making it big on a local and international stage includes the likes of Jason Masters, Sean Izaakse, Warren Louw, Bill Masuku and Moray Rhoda.

Jason Masters, a Johannesburg based comic book artists, began his career in commercial advertising and went on to work as a professional comic book artist for DC, Marvel, and Dynamite Comics.

Masters’ early work includes Human Target and Red, a comic series penned by Warren Ellis, for Wildstorm Studios, an imprint of DC. He went on to work on various Batman titles, including Legends of the Dark Knight, Batwoman, Batman Incorporated, and Nightwing. For Marvel he worked on Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverines, and X-Men. His biggest gig arrived in 2015, when he was handpicked by comics legend, Warrren Ellis, to handle the artwork as ongoing series artist on Dynamite’s high-profile relaunch of the James Bond comic book, the first all-new 007 comic series in over 20 years. The series, under the helm of Ellis and Masters, has received popular and critical acclaim and is currently one of Dynamite Comics bestselling new series. His latest comic, Caster, stars Common, Actor, film producer, poet and American hip hop recording artist.

Johannesburg based Sean Izaakse adds his presence to the team having worked as a freelance illustrator and comic artist for the last 8 years. An artist on Pathfinder comics for Dynamite Entertainment and contributed artwork to various RPG’s like Mutants & Masterminds by Green Ronin Publishing. Izaakse is the artist and co-creator, along with writer Vito Delsante, of the creator-owned series Stray from Action Lab Entertainment. Sean has been doing work for MARVEL comics over the past two years on titles such as The Thunderbolts, Avengers, Deadpool, The Uncanny Avengers and is currently the artist on MARVEL’s “The Champions” comic series.

Also on the team is Bill Masuku who is a 25 year old comic book artist and writer – born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe. Masuku is the founder of Enigma Comix Africa, as well as the creator of Razor-Man and Captain South Africa. The former of his works has gained him growing acclaim in his hometown spearheading the local comic industry forward. The latter debuted in January (at a convention in Cape Town) and the titular super heroine is set to move forward with themes of social justice, inequality, discrimination.

As one of the most celebrated artists from South Africa, Warren Louw, brings a new element to the team. Louw is a Louw is a freelance illustrator and character designer. He is self-taught and works in both traditional and digital media. His ability to create images with meticulous detail and imagination has gained considerable attention internationally with over 2 million pageviews on his DeviantArt account alone. He has also attended San Diego Comic Con and La Mole Mexico.  as a special guest artist. Well recognised for his mastery of renditions of beautiful women and a perfectionist in his illustrations, his work has been featured in print publications such as ImagineFX Magazine, various UDON Entertainment Tribute Art books, Ballistic Publishing’s Exotique, Photoshop Essentials, Masters of Anatomy and 21 Draw. He has also created comic covers for UDON’s Street Fighter, Street Fighter vs. Darkstalkers. IDW Comics’ G.I. Joe, Danger Girl, and DC Comics’ Power Girl, Harley Quinn, Justice League, Green Lanterns and Batman. He has also done conceptual work for Longship Armoury, Phoenix Age Gaming and Bandai Namco.

Completing the team is Moray Rhoda – a Cape Town based instigator of independent comics in South Africa and is currently the Head of Animation at CityVarsity Cape Town. He was one of the founding members of the Igubu Comic Book Collective and was the man behind Insurrection Studios in the early 2000s. Moray is a contributing member to SECTOR, South Africa’s only on-going bi-monthly comic and is also associated with producing and creating content for The Lil5 comic and the Australian/SA collab, Velocity Graphic Anthology. Moray and team Velocity hosted the first SA comic panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2013 (and a follow up panel in 2014).

The Comic Con Africa experience will include the Artist Alley – a space for independent artists who are producing original artwork in the form of comics, prints, posters and self-published novels, and books.

Comic Con Africa will be held from 14 – 16 September 2018 at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit & International Convention Centre. Comic Con Africa is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that features comic books, games, arts, movies, pop culture elements and so much more.

More information about autograph sessions as well as ticket pricing will be announced at a later stage.

Arts and Entertainment

Netflix to make SA series

The world leader in streaming movies has announced the first South African production to join its Originals roster.

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World leader in entertainment streaming services Netflix this week announced its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The news comes immediately in the wake of local rival Showmax announcing it’s first original drama production. In this context, it heralds a new phase in the evolution of streaming video-on-demand in South Africa.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

Pearl Thusi stars as Queen Sono in Netflix’s first original series in Africa.

“We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

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Arts and Entertainment

Showmax shoots its first local drama

Showmax has completed filming its first commissioned drama, as it builds out its roster of original content.

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The Girl From St Agnes, Showmax’s first original drama, wrapped on 28 November 2018 after filming in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Johannesburg. The eight-part whodunnit premieres on Showmax on 31 January 2019. It is the second series in a programme designed to build out its roster of exclusive, original content.

As Netflix takes hold as South Africa’s preferred streaming video-on-demand service,  Showmax owner MultiChoice has made a string of strategic announcements designed to take the DStv paid satellite broadcasting service into the streaming era. Original content is critical to this strategy, as Netflix is on track to become the world’s biggest movie studio.

Showmax is available in 70 countries.

Photographer: Patrick Toselli

“Our first Original – last year’s light-hearted comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary – had the most successful launch day of any series on Showmax ever,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “This is a complete change of direction: The Girl From St Agnes is a dark murder mystery that will keep you guessing and taps into the current conversations in South Africa about #metoo and teen sexuality.”

At St Agnes, a prestigious all-girls boarding school in the Midlands, a popular and beautiful student is found dead at the base of the old mill. Fearful of the scandal it might cause, the school is quick to declare the death of Lexi Summerveld a tragic accident.

But drama teacher Kate Ballard doesn’t believe it. On the night of her death, an upset Lexi had been trying to contact her, and Kate had ignored her. Now wracked with guilt, Kate attempts to piece together the terrible truth.

The more she investigates, the more Kate realises that she didn’t know Lexi or the school at all. Behind the imposing walls of St Agnes, Lexi’s killer won’t be the only person exposed…

Newcomer Jane De Wet was handpicked to play Lexi by legendary South African casting director Moonyeenn Lee (Tsotsi), who’s been nominated for two Emmy Awards in the last three years, for The Looming Tower and Roots.

Kate is played by Nina Milner, who modelled for Vogue Germany and at Paris Fashion Week last year and most recently starred in Troy: Fall Of A City as Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons.

Jane and Nina are joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes internationally recognised South African talent like Robert Hobbs (District9), Tyrone Keogh (24 Hours To Live), Tessa Jubber (Wallander), Karl Thaning (Dredd) and Shamilla Miller (Troy: Fall Of A City) opposite local favourites like Celeste Khumalo (The Queen), Richard Lukunku (Happiness Is A Four-Letter Word), Zakeeya Patel (High Rollers), Graham Hopkins (The Lab) and three-time South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) winner Jerry Mofokeng (Heist, Tsotsi), not to mention hot new talent like Paige Bonnin and Tristan de Beer.

The Girl From St Agnes is being produced by Quizzical Pictures, winners of the SAFTA for Best Drama for six of the last eight years, as well as a Peabody. Producer Harriet Gavshon, Quizzical Pictures’ managing director, is drawing on her own private school experiences, which sparked the original idea for the show. This is the first time Harriet has produced a series, rather than just executive producing, since 2009’s Hopeville, which won Best Drama and Miniseries at Rose d’Or, was nominated for an International Emmy, and was a finalist at Monte Carlo.

Catharine Cooke, who won this year’s Best Director In a TV Drama SAFTA for iNumber Number, co-directed the shoot with Cindy Lee, a commercials director helming her first drama series, having previously worked as the social media director on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror. Double SAFTA winner Gillian Breslin (Umlilo; 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) is head writer. This makes Girl From St Agnes a rare TV series commissioned, produced, written and directed by women.

“What links Girl From St Agnes, Tali’s Wedding Diary and the other Showmax Originals in the pipeline is our aim to work with the best South African talent and be the home for brave, quirky and at times edgy local stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else,” says Candice. “Creating new characters that audiences come to love and follow is an incredibly rewarding experience and we want to establish a platform for more ‘Tali’s’ across varied genres.”

All eight episodes can be binged on Showmax from 31 January 2019.

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