The South African geeky convention calendar is largely clustered in 2019, with biggies like ICON and FanCon a week apart (from 22-24 April and 27-28 April respectively), and just a 3-day gap between Comic Con Africa (21-24 September) and rAge (27-29 September). Reportedly, this grouping will allow event organisers to pool their efforts and budgets (well, at least in terms of the first two events) and bring some of the biggest names in pop culture to South Africa.
In theory anyway. No international comics creators from outside the African continent have been announced yet for any local convention this year. With that in mind, here’s the Critical Hit wish list of comic industry stars we’d most like to see come to our shores, and why. Comment below our choices with your top three picks too.
Gail Simone is a lifelong comics fan, critic and former hairstylist who made an ultra-successful transition into comics writer. A pioneer for high-profile female creators in the industry, as well as LGBT-positive content on the page, she has enjoyed celebrated, fan-favourite runs on the likes of Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Deadpool, Red Sonja, Wonder Woman and, most recently, Domino. In all of these cases she essentially revived and redefined the characters in question, creating definitive arcs in their histories. Also, she has arguably the busiest, most whacked Twitter account in the business so we’d love to pick her brain in person.
Brian K. Vaughan
Y: The Last Man. Paper Girls. Ex Machina. Pride of Baghdad. And, of course, the multi-Eisner-Award-winning Saga. Over the past 25 years or so, comics writer Brian K. Vaughan has been responsible for some of the most original, thought-provoking and engaging comics outside of the default capes-and-tights genre. And that’s just his creator-driven work. Vaughan was also part of the creative team that originally came up with Marvel’s Runaways comic, worked on cult TV series Lost and acted as showrunner for Stephen King adaptation Under the Dome. Just think of all the knowledge he could share with South Africa’s indie comics creators trying to get their creator-owned projects off the ground.
Okay, mostly I want Croatian artist and writer Stjepan Sejic to come over for a South African con so that I can thank the unpronounceable-named one in person for his goofy-yet-heartfelt BDSM romance Sunstone. Also, there would be the opportunity to gain insight into how the man (who has worked on such titles as Rat Queens, Witchblade and Aquaman, in addition to his own projects) achieves his signature painterly style so damn quickly. FYI, Sejic is another comics creator with a massively entertaining social media presence, and his appearance would likely be accompanied by his wife, fellow comics creator Linda (Blood Stain) Sejic.
Warren Ellis is basically an ideas engine. Boasting extensive passions for transhumanism, folklore and mythology, bleeding edge science, ancient history, human psychology and much more, the veteran writer is regularly brought in by publishers to completely revamp and revitalize comic lines by injecting them with his own distinct flavour. A prolific writer who has worked for just about everybody (he’s listed as having more trade paperbacks in print than any other writer alive), Ellis has given some of the most iconic and thought-provoking comic titles of the last few decades (Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency, Planetary, The Authority, Stormwatch, Thunderbolts, just to name a few), nearly all of them reinventing the rules of their respective genres. He has published brilliantly hilarious novels and written/created fan-favourite TV shows like Netflix’s Castlevania. He’s also, much like so many of his characters, a sarcastic British bastard with a razor-sharp wit and a penchant for very creative swearing. How could you not want to meet him?
A true artistic wunderkind who started working at Marvel at the early age of just 16, “Joe Mad” was once one of the biggest names in comics. His intensely dynamic, anime-inspired pencil work on such iconic runs like X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, Astonishing X-Men, and his short-lived creator-owned steampunk marvel Battle Chasers was beloved by fans everywhere (and heavily inspired teenage Kervyn with his dreams of becoming a pro comic book artist one day). He was at the very top of the food chain in the comic book industry… and then he walked away from it all to go into game development (he helped design Darksiders).
While he still makes the odd very brief superstar returns to comics, he hasn’t done any prolonged work in the medium in a decade. And it’s felt like an eternity. Besides for just getting an insight into his very distinct artistic process, hearing exactly why he switched lanes when he was at the top his game, as well as how he brought his comic book skillset over to the world of video games would be great. Not to mention hearing what it was like to be a comic book pro before he was legally allowed to drive.
The dapper Grant Morrison is a veteran Scottish comic book writer who has worked on nearly all the major titles in comics today. Besides for his widely beloved creator-owned stuff like We3, The Invisibles, and Happy, he boasts several legendary runs on more mainstream books from The Big Two like Animal Man, The New X-Men, Batman, Doom Patrol, JLA, Marvel Boy, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, All-Star Superman and more, his stories always pushing the boundaries of the medium.
I don’t want him here for all of that though. I just freaking want him to explain WTF is actually going on in Final Crisis and which particular psychotropic drugs I need to take to understand it all!
Famed Hollywood director, one half of Jay and Silent Bob and let’s face it, the ambassador of comic books in an age where picking up an issue of X-Men won’t turn you into an instant pariah. While Smith may not be as prolific a writer in comic books when compared to his first passion for filmmaking (and freaking people the f*** out with flicks such as Tusk),
Having even managed to beat off a heart attack recently, Smith isn’t just an unstoppable force of comic book love and podcasts. He’s a nerd who wears his passion on his sleeve and has an almost limitless supply of energy powering him. A passion that I’ve love to see up close on the local convention circuit.
Hey, if I’m going to have one Batman artist on my list, it’s going to be the most dynamic and exciting caped crusader visualiser to put his spin on my favourite hero. Kicking off The New 52 with a massive bang alongside writer Scott Snyder, Capullo’s days as a heavyweight artist on Spawn and other projects managed to slot in perfectly with DC’s resident dark knight.
Moody, energetic and instantly recognisable, Capullo’s art is legendary
Hey, got to have some balance to my wishlist, and if I’m shooting for DC’s big guns to join my all star roster then it’s only fitting that I grab someone from Marvel as well. That someone, would be the artists behind the most metal comic book of 2018, Venom’s Ryan Stegman. Not just an artist who creates amazing layouts for the iconic anti-hero, Stegman is also a hoot to follow on Twitter, where he regularly dishes out weirdness and laughs alongside previews of his art.
That, and I really want to see if he has actual hands which craft his impossible art, or if he happens to have been cybernetically augmented. Which would explain a lot.
The first (and pretty much only) name that comes to mind when I think about which comic creator I would love to meet is Neil Gaiman. Not only is Gaiman a prolific author of many scripts, screenplays, novels, and short stories, but he’s also responsible for The Sandman, which collectively has over 26 Eisner Awards, along with accolades from the Hugo Awards and the Bram Stoker awards.
The Sandman is legendary for a reason, a mix of fantasy, humour, darkness and witticism on a magnificent scale. Though it began its run in 1989 and concluded (officially) in 1996, The Sandman – and Gaiman’s work – still has
Another Eisner award winner on my list, this time in the form of Lumberjanes developer and writer Noelle Stevenson. Not only has Stevenson turned her own webcomic into a graphic novel that was published by HarperCollins, but she has also worked with BOOM! Studios on Lumberjanes and Sleepy Hollow, and written for Marvel’s Runaways and Thor. Mostly, I seriously admire Stevenson for her work as Executive Producer for Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and would love to thank her in person for such an amazing show.
Sarah Anderson, author and artist of the slice of life webcomic Sarah’s Scribbles, might be a surprising entry on this list. Most people would jump to the heavyweights of Marvel and DC, but for me, webcomics are my jam. They’re easily accessible, relatable, and, very importantly for a country like ours, pretty easy to self-fund. I would love to speak to someone who has made a huge success out of a webcomic about what it’s like to self-fund and find the reach.
Also, I would pretty much do anything to commission Anderson for a tattoo design of her little black cat, seeing as everything that cat does
Well, those are all our picks. Do you agree/disagree with them? Which comics creators would you like to see grace our shores? Sound off in the comments below!
Last Updated: January 18, 2019