Celebrating East African Writing!
I love comics. Not all of them. But I do love comics.
I love the slapstick humour combined with adventure mystery solving in Adventures of Tintin. I love the comic disaster in Asterix and Obelix.
But more than those I love the Super hero & Super villain Comics. I love the paper comics, the animated comic series, and even the life-ised comic based stories. Right now, I am seriously taken on No Ordinary Family and The Cape. I did like Heroes, for like half a minute over there.
It’s not just the detail captured by the artist’s hand – Dave Cockrum, R.I.P and my salute on Ororo Munroe T’challa [Storm of Xmen] – it’s also the care taken into designing and writing both the character’s histories as well as individual episodes of the comic character’s life.
There is not one super hero ever created who is absolutely good and totally invincible. There is always one thing that can bring an idealist person with superpowers down to his or her knees and force them to face the dark naked truth about life and themselves. And there is always a back story to the strength. I guess I love the idea of strength because of a weakness.
On the other hand, there is not a super villain who does not have a story of their own, something that keeps them awake, worrying, crying, planning to be on the upper hand. You just have to admire the genius behind a villain. Powerful guys with no brains are no villains, they are just used by the villains to get things done. Villains challenge the limits of evil and self-service. But in the end, they are made weak by their strengths.
More importantly, super heroes are nothing without super villains. Without The Joker, Batman is just a big boy playing with really cool gadgets. Without Magneto, Professor Xavier is just a sad highly intelligent guy in a wheel chair. Without Luthor, superman is just another guy from outer space. Villains make the things heroes would take for granted like we do; family, love, companionship, life; so much more important.
Life imitates art. Art imitates life?
Contrary to what you may think, this article is NOT about comic books, graphic novels and super hero – super villain universes.
This article is about the different kind of genres that have a market out there. My genre of consumption is super hero, super villain comic books with a touch of mystery thrill and science fiction. Someone else’s genre of consumption is pure shaking hot romance, geeky out of this world science fiction, heart racing hard core mystery, the list is endless. Sometimes genres overlap, sometimes superheroes fall in love with bionic women whose real parents were killed by… you see what I mean.
Now my genre of consumption is very different from my genre of production. I tend to do the ‘over share’ internet micro writing. I get lost in fantasy mysteries most suitable for teens with heads in their clouds. And if I say so myself, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
I also suffer from USI – Unwarranted Self Importance, a disease which I find afflicts very many Kenyan persons. Go google it. Basically, I like to write things that make people come back for more and say how wowed they are by the story line.
My point? Don’t limit yourself. And definitely don’t over think the ‘african culture.’ Truth is, our culture is neo-african – woohoo that bus passed a while ago! And in our culture, respecting your parents is just as relevant as having that Android phone! Kids go to school and talk about Gossip Girl, text their friends all evening about Vampire Diaries and get lost in Facebook chatting to the cutie who sits at the back of the class, all this at the time when I’d have been watching the Pink Panther. That is our story, whether you like it or not. And folks who try their level best to negotiate careers or lack of it, marriage and divorce, and at the same time try to get their kids to get more out of life than sex at 12, those make my superhero list. Even if their kids hate them. That is our story.
I for one, would like to someday read a comic about a Kenyan mad genius scientist with a lab high up on Ngong Hills who experimented with gene splicing, and succeeded. Then he made a superkenyan – ultra fast, with amazing floss power, and laser eyes. There are so many things I would have this said superkenyan handle. Unless, of course, the said super Kenyan turns villain. Then this cop – not corrupt, not greedy, and caring about Kenya… that makes a superhero, no? – spends a lifetime countering the super villain’s schemes. In the course of his campaign he discovers a few things, one; he is not so good himself, two; he is not so invincible, three; the villain has some admirable qualities, four; the world can throw back your idealism in your face, and it hurts.
If you doubt this storyline, ask a few of the guys who hang out in the Kenyan Parliament.
I’m just saying. I know. There’s some of you who just want to read and write stuff about how to get rich and how to nab the perfect husband (all the best with the latter), but there’s room for everyone!
So don’t limit yourself. If you like it…
Almost as if to prove my point, the pieces on exhibit today demonstrate the fact that you can take what you do best, and make other people enjoy it with you.
We start with Aston Martin – Another note to the Sketch’s Dearest Doris: I do not have an Aston Martin… If I did I wouldn’t be planning on bitching on what I am just about to bitch about!!
Then we have The Wicked Runner from the West: This story is about Linday’s witty grandma and a mischievous night runner’s embarrassing fall – literally.
Lastly, we read The Lieutenant’s Wife: Every time Mrs. Tabitha went into the kitchen and came back carrying a silver kettle and plate, her eyes and face embodying me, making me feel alive.
Happy Reading, Joyous Writing, Great Week!