WATCH | Geeks rejoice! We take you inside SA's comic book stores

30 August 2019 - 08:22 By Cebelihle Bhengu

It's only a matter of weeks until the Comic Con Africa festival begins, the place where  geeks and superhero fans will celebrate the culture of comic books, anime and cosplay.

Comic culture is growing massively in SA, with last year's event attended by over 47, 000 visitors. 

As a lead up to the festival in September 21-24, TimesLIVE attended a comic store tour, where we spoke to owners of comic book shops about their businesses and love for the culture, as well as SA's own Marvel artist Sean Izaakse. 

Heroes of Games and Comics, Sandton 

The starting point of the tour was at Sandton's Heroes of Games and Comics, owned by John Lee. Regional store manager and self-proclaimed addict Thabani Zondo, said they will soon launch a new shop in Fourways.

Zondo has 300 comic books that he has collected over the years, and believes the comic culture in SA is growing. 

Cosmic Comics, Randburg

Shane Brocklebank owns Cosmic Comics and has been collecting comic books as a young boy with his grandmother. Brocklebank has everything for everyone, from Marvel comic books and statues to Warner Bros' Detective Comics, better known among fans as DC.

Inside Cosmic Comics shop in Randburg
Inside Cosmic Comics shop in Randburg
Image: Emile Bosch

Brockebank said the best-selling characters change over the years. Spiderman used to be the biggest-selling character but has since been dethroned by Marvels' Venom. 

He said while a lot of people buy comic books and collectables, the business aspect of it does have some hurdles, one being that shop owners are not located in central areas where they are easily accessible to customers.

"The shops are hidden away because of our rentals, and it's always been about the rentals really, but a lot of people order." 

Meeting Sean Izaakse

Sean Izaakse has been working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist for the past eight years and has contributed some of his work to Role Playing Games (RPGs) like Mutants and Masterminds by Green Ronin Publishing.

In the past two years he has been doing work for Marvel. He has worked on titles such as The Thunderbolts, Avengers, Deadpool, The uncanny Avengers and is currently the artist on Marvel's The Champion comic series. 

Smallville Comics, Alberton 

Based in Alberton, Smallville Comics is Jo Do Carmo's baby, which he has been operating since 2005. Joe is big on statue collectors culture, and often gets collectors looking for different statues of their favourites superheroes. These retail for up to R4,000. 

Contrary to popular belief, children don't collect statues of action figures, adults aged between 17-45 years do.

Smallville Comics is big on statues and collectables.
Smallville Comics is big on statues and collectables.
Image: Emile Bosch

Joe told TimesLIVE that over the years the culture has evolved as more women are also getting into comic books and statue collection. "Before, when a woman came in, we'd ask if she's here to collect for her husband, son or boyfriend. We don't anymore as more of them are really getting into collecting comic books and statues for themselves."

Like all businesses, Smallville goes through some tough times but thanks to Comic Con Africa festival, they are able to make up for the slow months.

He looks forward to this year's one and said him and his team will prepare different characters to ensure the satisfaction of customers. "We have been doing this for years and we know what people want. So this year, we will bring everything for everyone."