Soccer comic scores a winner for SA

11 December 2010 - 21:18 By KAREN VAN ROOYEN

What started as a conversation during a fishing trip about the lack of local comics has turned into a popular home-grown series.

Today, Supa Strikas, the comic about a soccer team, celebrates its 100th edition.

Since its launch 10 years ago, the comic has become an international phenomenon, having sold over 100 million copies in 16 countries and even spawned a TV deal.

It was started by three guys in a tiny garage in Cape Town, and today over 40 people put the monthly comic together.

Said Strikas Entertainment CEO Richard Morgan-Grenville: "We never envisaged that we would get anywhere near where we are today. We are very excited and ... looking forward to expanding in Africa."

The series is based on the world's greatest soccer team and its players.

Supa Strikas, which has been carried in the Sunday Times since 2002, was first published in 2000 and spread to, among others, Nigeria, Uganda, Brazil and Sweden. It is published in English, Spanish, French and Arabic, and a TV series is broadcast in several languages.

"It's a universal story about someone who has talent and wants to be the best in the world," said Morgan-Grenville.

He said they had their sponsors to thank for the comic's success, with more than five million people aged 13 to 30 reading it each month.

They also have merchandising deals, including fruit juice and clothing, and are considering a DVD and stationery deal in South East Asia.

The comic's head illustrator, Bonisa Bonani, joined the group straight out of college.

"I was 19 and I was happy making a living doing something I love - drawing and soccer," he said.

Now 29, he said he watched a lot of soccer to perfect the angles and enhance the animation in his sketches.