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EXCLUSIVE: Mohale Mashigo reveals Marvel character she’d love to write most

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Mohale Mashigo is the author of the widely acclaimed bestselling novel ‘The Yearning’. Her last book, a collection of brilliantly unsettling speculative fiction short stories called ‘Intruders’ explores how it feels not to belong. Also a comic book writer, she’s written a Black Panther story, knocked an acclaimed stint on United States of Captain America out of the park, and is working on some stories in ‘Batman: Urban Legends’ for DC. She’s also told us which Marvel character she would love to write next, and it’d be a pairing made in heaven. Did we mention she’s also an award-winning singer-songwriter? Well, she granted GeekAfrique an interview, and herewith are excerpts:

By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu

GeekAfrique: First of all, why did you become a writer, and at what point did you decide to? (Basically, what’s your origin story?)

Mohale Mashigo: I don’t know why I became a writer, but I have always been a storyteller. Even from a young age, I enjoyed telling stories. I started writing for fun, with a friend in high school. She would write one chapter, and I would write another. Even then I didn’t consider becoming a writer. It was only once my debut novel, ‘The Yearning’, was published did I think ‘Woah, I think I’m a writer now’.

GeekAfrique: You’ve written some very well-received books. Which of them is your favorite, and why?

Mohale Mashigo: I’ve written a novel and a short story collection. The short story collection is my favorite because I was testing my skills, strengthening my voice, and having fun. Not to say writing ‘The Yearning’ wasn’t fun, but I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote it. With ‘Intruders’, the short story collection, I visited different characters and put them in impossible situations. It was also the first time I really tried speculative fiction. The characters in ‘Intruders’ are also some of my favorites.

Not to say writing ‘The Yearning’ wasn’t fun, but I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote it. With ‘Intruders’, the short story collection, I visited different characters and put them in impossible situations. It was also the first time I really tried speculative fiction.

GeekAfrique: You’re known for skating in and out of various genres. Which, would you say is where you’re most at home?

Mohale Mashigo: I don’t think I’ve written enough to have a favorite genre yet. In fact, I sometimes find myself genre-blending so I would say my favorite is whichever I’m writing at the time. I feel most at home when I write about black women and girls if I’m being completely honest.

GeekAfrique: Your story in Marvel Voices was brilliant, showing us sides of many of our favorite superheroines we hadn’t been shown before. What inspired the story?

Mohale Mashigo: I liked the idea of young heroes being each other’s support system. I genuinely wondered: Who do these young women turn to when they need a break? What do they do on their off days? They know of each other, but could they possibly be friends? I liked the idea of a secret self-care spot and things started flowing from there. Riri, Shuri, and Kamala were perfect for the story.

“I liked the idea of young heroes being each other’s support system. I genuinely wondered: Who do these young women turn to when they need a break? What do they do on their off days? They know of each other, but could they possibly be friends?”

GeekAfrique: For non-South Africans, what’s the Kwezi comic book series all about?

Mohale Mashigo: Kwezi, created by Loyiso Mkize and Clyde Beech) is a story about a regular 19-year-old who suddenly (not really, there is a whole backstory) gains the hero starter pack of powers. Instead of going out here and doing things for “the greater good,” he uses it to become a social media sensation with dreams of being a global icon. It’s a story about ego vs altruism. We go on a journey of self-discovery with him, while he comes against dark forces that want to get rid of him. This all takes place in Gold City (a version of Johannesburg). I joined the team from issue 7 and the comic is now on issue 13.

“Cap is an interesting character, but writing him was never on my radar until I was presented with the opportunity to write a black woman taking on the mantle, then I was like ‘Uhmm…yes please!’ Nichelle Wright is such a badass!”

GeekAfrique: You went from a brilliant Black Panther story on Serial Box for Marvel to The United States of Captain America. Is cap’s story one you’ve always wanted to tell, or are the times simply calling for one?

Mohale Mashigo: Cap is an interesting character, but writing him was never on my radar until I was presented with the opportunity to write a black woman taking on the mantle, then I was like ‘Uhmm…yes please!’ Nichelle Wright is such a badass, and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. She’s also an activist by day, and Captain America by night. I simply fell in love with the character as we were creating her. Nichelle Wright is definitely one of the highlights of my young comic book writing career.

GeekAfrique: Speaking of that, is there a particular Marvel character you’d love to take on?

Mohale Mashigo: Blade. Without. A. Doubt.

GeekAfrique: Do you find flitting from comics to prose to songwriting to screenwriting even a little dizzying?

Mohale Mashigo: Besides learning the technical elements of the different disciplines, no. I’m a storyteller and every story needs the same thing from me: to tell the best way I can. Perhaps I’m a multi-linguist that way. I understand the personalities of the languages but in the end, a story is just a story.

GeekAfrique: While we’re still catching our breaths from ‘Intruders’, when is your next novel coming out?

Mohale Mashigo: I have no idea. I’m certain my publisher will say 2023, ha-ha. In the meantime, I’ve become Lead Writer for a South Africa game developer (Nyamakop) and we are working on something SUPER-exciting. Can’t say what right now, but it’s pretty dope. I also have a 3-part story in ‘Batman: Urban Legends’. The editor (Ben Abernathy) approached me asking if I would be interested in writing something for DC. I said yes, and I was given the character Kid Eternity. He’s in Gotham and things are getting weird and interesting for him. I had fun working on Kid Eternity in Gotham because he’s a weird and mysterious character, which is definitely in my lane.

GeekAfrique: Finally, what, would you say, is one thing a reader would most certainly find in every Mohale Mashigo story?

Mohale Mashigo: Humour. No matter how dark or light the story may be, there will also be humor. It’s how I navigate my own life and it finds its way onto the page. There is always room for laughter.

COMICS

Lagos Comic Convention 2022: We’re ready for 10,000 guests – Elegba

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Ayodele Elegba created Lagos Comic Convention, the fastest-growing annual gathering of geeks in the country, and this year will see the event hitting a milestone as it marks its tenth year on Saturday, Sept. 17. He spoke to us about his enthusiasm that this year’s will be the biggest and best show they’ve ever given fans, as well as many other points. He spoke to Abdulkareem Baba Aminu, and herewith are excerpts:

By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu

GeekAfrique: For Lagos Comic Convention 2022, what will you be doing differently?

Ayodele Elegba: This year is like a rebirth for us. After the COVID pandemic, we saw a decline in events and socializing. It was a scary situation, and we never thought we would be back again. We are grateful that geeks from all over Nigeria came together last year, even if masked, but with the same hyper-enthusiasm. This year, we have been able to secure a title sponsor in Raptures, a comic book app that hopes to change the way comics are perceived in Africa. We also have secured sponsorship for our zones as well, something we have been trying to achieve for a while now. Also, the French Consulate’s kind sponsorship continues this year.

This year, for the first time, the entire event will be ticketed and we have made this decision because our goal is to make the event self-sustaining, and we can give the fans the opportunity to finally support the event and say ‘thank you’ for the 10 years we have organized the event for free. This year we will be announcing the DreamMakers Award for individuals and organizations who have contributed immensely to the growth of comic books in Nigeria. 

“It’s been ten years, and we are poised to welcome over 10,000 guests this year.”

Of course, we are back at the Landmark Event Centre, and we will be bringing back all the juicy activities the fans are used to seeing, like cosplay, panel discussions, screenings of exclusive clips from films and animation, and exhibitors selling their comic books and merch. It’s been ten years, and we are poised to welcome over 10,000 guests this year

GeekAfrique: Since you began the event, what has been the single most difficult goal for you to crush?

Elegba: I think the most difficult has been to make big corporates see the comic convention for what it is. Many of them are used to musical concerts and reality shows and will not put money into what they still perceive as kids’ stuff. We’re still working hard to change that perspective and get big money companies to support and sponsor.

In the past, I would clear my account to pay for the event. But over time we have seen the event now able to mostly sustain itself based on sponsorship, vendors, and ticketing. This year we are grateful for all the numerous exhibitors and sponsors who have joined us this year to make it a reality.

GeekAfrique: You’ve kept at it for a decade now. What has kept you going on?

Elegba: I guess the dream has kept me going. You know, the image of a future where African comic books will become a household name, and adapted into movies, games or animation. Also, the dream of the average young person making money from talent, as well as that of animation studios springing up all over the country, and big-name streamers courting them. This dream keeps me awake every night, and I am glad of the growth we have seen in the creative space since Lagos Comic Convention began.

GeekAfrique: How much of a presence will animation have this year, as RENDACON has been created to take care of that?

Elegba: Animation will always have a special place at Lagos Comic Convention. This year will not be an exception, as we have studios like Spoof! Animation coming to premiere its latest project at the event. With our partnership with FilmOne, it means animated films and shorts will be screened on actual cinema screens this year. We had actually begun to see a growth in animation content at the convention a few years ago. More and more animation studios and storytellers were springing up, and we didn’t have enough room to actually do justice to them all. so we established RENDACON (Radical Exhibition of New and Dynamic Animated Content). We will be having the second edition in November, and we hope to bring a lot of speakers and trainers to discuss topics that will help growth in the animation space.

“It’s tough (laughter), especially when you have some very juicy scoops. Even now I am privileged to some government announcements that will be made at the event, but I am not permitted to say.”

GeekAfrique: Participating creators and companies no doubt share secret projects with you during planning. How do you summon enough willpower to keep those secrets?

Elegba: It’s tough (laughter), especially when you have some very juicy scoops. Even now I am privileged to some government announcements that will be made at the event, but I am not permitted to say. I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to spoil the surprise(s). I think it’s more fulfilling to see rather than be told, and this is why fans need to attend physically and experience all the great stuff for themselves.

GeekAfrique: Your own comic book company has been rather quiet regarding actual publishing of books. Why is that?

Elegba: We just wanted to re-evaluate our business model and look at other ways of succeeding at printed copies. The animation side of the business is doing quite well and it’s almost impossible to make comics at the same time too.  But we will be making some announcements at the convention, so fans should watch out.

QeekAfrique: If you could have one celebrity grace the Lagos Comic Convention, which one would it be?

Elegba: I would love to have Idris Elba over, to come to talk about his experience working with James Gunn on the Suicide Squad movie, his Heimdall role, and to just hang out with fellow geeks and soak up the awesome Lagos energy. It’s always a pleasure seeing a black man representing very well in comic book movies.

Lagos Comic Convention is slated to take place on Saturday, September 27th, 2022.

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COMICS

Lagos Comic Convention 2022: Date announced, new logo unveiled

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The founder of the Lagos Comic Convention took to Facebook to share a brand-new logo for the yearly pop culture event, revealing the date as well.

By Justina Terhember

Ayodele Elegba, founder and director of the Lagos Comic Convention, wrote on Facebook that when he began the event in 2012, all he had was a dream that one day, comic artists in Nigeria would be able to break into the international market, working for major players and giants like Marvel and DC. “My dream has since come true, and the [attendance of the] event has grown from just 300 to 7,000 in 2021. This year, we are going even bigger,” he wrote.

Elegba also added: “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the official 2022 logo for Lagos Comic Convention 2022,” as an image of the new logo accompanied the post.

“My dream has since come true, and the [attendance of the] event has grown from just 300 to 7,000 in 2021. This year, we are going even bigger.”

A subsequent post also revealed the date to be the 17th of September, 2022. It also teased 200 guest speakers, facilitators, and exhibitors. The post added: “Comics, Animation, Film, Books and Games all coming together at the Landmark Centre in Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos.”

You can snag tickets HERE, with lower prices offered for early bird purchases and registration. GeekAfrique will be there and will dish out detailed reports, photos, and videos.

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COMICS

Why I left Marvel Comics, by ex-boss Joe Quesada

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Joe Quesada, Marvel’s former chief creative officer, recently announced his departure from the publishing company and has teased new independent projects. On his Twitter handle, he posted: “When I first jumped into the world of comics, my goal was to create my own characters, stories, and universes. Then, one day Marvel made me an offer that changed the trajectory of my life. But lately, I’ve found myself thinking more and more of my favorite stanza from T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding, ‘We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time’.

The post continued: “That’s why it’s both exciting and bittersweet that after discussions with both my family and my family at Marvel, after two plus decades (has it really been that long?), the time has come for me to move on. As you can imagine, my love for the company, its characters, and all my co-workers runs deep, but I have an exciting new chapter that’s about to begin, so the time feels right.”

”My love for [Marvel], its characters, and all my co-workers runs deep, but I have an exciting new chapter that’s about to begin, so the time feels right.”

Quesada became an editor of Marvel Comics’ Marvel Knights line in 1998 before being promoted to editor-in-chief in 2000. “Marvel entrusted me with the keys to the Universe, and has been my biggest supporter ever since,” he said.

Quesada added that he has had the great fortune to stand on the shoulders of giants, and he ensured fans that while he’s stepping away from Marvel, he’s not leaving the comics industry any time soon. “I won’t ever be too far away, cheering my Marvel family on and contributing from time to time, including something I’m thrilled about for later this year. I also have several insanely cool projects of my own that you’ll be hearing about in the coming months, including a short indie film I’m writing and directing. Stay tuned!”

Quesada also expressed pride at what he called Marvel’s ‘rags-to-riches story’, and satisfaction that he accomplished the job he was hired to do twenty-two years ago. He was named chief creative officer of Marvel Entertainment in 2010, a role that had him ensure all portrayals of Marvel characters were accurate and in line with Marvel lore. His position shifted to executive vice president and creative director for Marvel Entertainment in 2019 when Marvel named Kevin Feige as chief creative officer of Marvel.

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