Comic Books: Graphic novel comes of age in Durban

11 November 2014 - 02:01 By Siphiliselwe Makhanya
TEARING A STRIP: Enterprising comic book artist Luke Molver
TEARING A STRIP: Enterprising comic book artist Luke Molver
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Gazing through Luke Molver's comic book art leaves you itching for a bath.

That's how real the grubby universe of his dystopian science fiction is.

Remember Emma is set in the ''Neroverse". The 35-page comic tells the tale of a killer searching for his sister's murderer in the muggy streets of Durban.

Its monochrome artwork and noir conventions are a nod to works such as Frank Miller's Sin City.

Remember Emma was launched recently at KA-BLAM!, the first comic art exhibition in Durban.

''Until recently, comic books weren't considered legitimate literature or even art," says Molver.

"The one thing I do think is that people are watching the movies and returning to the original material," which, he says, is "good for the industry."

There's not much money in creating comic books in South Africa and Molver does it for the joy of it because it allows him complete control and the freedom to create characters.

One of the most striking is lady villain Mbali Max.

''She became one of my favourite characters because while she is cruel and can be evil, she's many other things too, and there's a moral ambiguity to that."

His thoughts on the continued sexist portrayal of women in comics?

''It's a valid debate, but I think it is as entrenched in the industry as sexism is entrenched in the world," Molver says.

''Just from a business standpoint it's ridiculous because the market is halved. In my own work it took me a lot longer to learn how to draw girls - probably because they scared me and I suspect they still do.

"I don't draw females overly sexualised, but they often turn out to be villains," Molver jokes.

The ''Easter eggs" (the pop culture term for hidden, inside jokes) are amusing and often thought-provoking. The bad and the worse mock each other as ''vetkoek-faced" and ''pap-brained".

Even local bands such as Fruit & Veggies get a mention.

''There are little details that just connect with South Africans," the artist says.

KA-BLAM! comic art exhibition is on at Open Plan Studio, 39 Station Drive, until Friday. For more information go to lukemolver.com

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