Inspirations

Well, first, there are the comics and graphic novels I read as a child: work by Hugo Pratt, Sokal, Derib, Moebius, Enki Bilal, the brothers Schuiten, or Hermann certainly shaped my preferences when it comes, for instance, to my uses of frames and the way I use a page’s layout to structure time and space. They also way in heavily in how and what I draw, even if I am not nearly as talented as these lightning examples.

Over the past few years I also drew inspiration from the work by African artists such as Sammy Baloji (who photographed his subjects wearing African masks) or by the Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo (who bodypaints his models with white line drawings), famous nowadays for his collaboration with Beyoncé Knowles on the video for her Lemonade album. But the continent also witnesses a boom of local talent, as testified to by the rise of African superhero comics or of speculative fiction, which has resulted in fascinating work by, among others, Daniel Hugo, Josh Ryba and Daniel Browde, Lauren Beukes, Charlie Human, or the graphic work gathered and published by Assante Massawa at Nubiamancy.

One thing that attracts me in this authors and stories is that they are developing a graphic language of their own, undoubtedly inspired by graphic novels in Europe, comic books in the US, and mangas from Japan and, nowadays, also China and South-Korea, but still. But not only are these authors developing their own aesthetics: one recurrent theme certainly is that of an afro-futurity, and almost all of these authors present us with a vision of the future -however utopian or dystopian they imagine it to be. Another thing they have in common is the seeming easy by which these artists combine ancestors with robotics, animals with technology, or ‘Africanness’ with superpowers. Even if only for that, these stories are a true relief from all the stereotypes regarding the African continent we are flooded with ever since the sixteenth century.