Art of the Comics Telling a Side of Story That Pictures Cannot [interview]

Chris Mafigiri Mugarura is a comic artist. He recently launched a comic book, Children of War at the Goethe Zentrum KampalaUganda German Cultural Society offices in Kampala. In 2013, he won the competition, Uganda comic artists’ competition sponsored by UGCS. Dominic Muwanguzi talked to him about his love for comics, the influence the art form has on other visual arts, and the future of his passion turned profession.

Tell us about your recently launched Comic Book, Children of War?

The book Children of War is a cross genre comic book, aenture, futuristic, and political history. It is a fascinating story that takes you through an ideological time of Africa’s unification, the characters that are the axis of this unification and their lives. It is a story I hope to turn into a graphic novel sometime.

Not many artists on the continent are doing comics, save for cartoonists employed by media houses. Why did you choose doing comics?

This is a tough one because I once worked on a newspaper as a cartoonist. But the only reason they employed me was because of my comic book work that I had been doing long before that. I don’t really think about it because I love doing it and I don’t look at it as work but a hobby or something to get your mind off things. It’s just recently that I was convinced I could merge the artistic side with the commercial. I’m doing that now, but I have always been drawing and will continue to draw. It’s like breathing for me. I need it.

What can comics do that other art forms cannot do in context of the local art scene?

I guess comics tell a side of a story that pictures cannot tell extensively. It is also pure art and can push a story to the limits. They say a picture can tell a thousand words what about many pictures?

The comic industry is still nascent on the continent unlike in Europe or United States. Do you think this is an aantage for African comic artists to create their own voice and style, rather than replicate what is already there?

The Japanese and the Western world have made this medium known to us but we can take aantage of this and create our own unique style. I guess it’s like how football was invented in England but we all know the South Americans have taken the sport to another height. My wish is that at this sport , it’s exhausting seeing all the “NGO” and religious comics around , I wish comic book artists could be allowed to express themselves more freely in a positive way .

What are some of the themes that often stand out in your work?

Well, I would say some of the constant themes have been action, aenture, fantasy, and a bit of humour.

What challenges impede creating a viable comic industry locally?

The major challenges are in the circulation of the comics, the distribution points and the remittances of monies. This I think is the commerce part that is the toughest. The market can be searched for but we probably need support in terms of marketing and distribution. The potential for the market is very much there so I hope to tap into that.

How would you describe your style? Is it cartooning or sequential Narrative?

It is more of a sequential narrative. I think cartooning is more in the line of animation. Mine is more of story boarding and narration.

Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

I hope to be a graphic novelist. I hope to be the first to do this. I’m already working on something along that line.

Source : The Independent

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