To be launched at the KZNSA Arts Café in Bulwer Road, Durban, on Friday 6 December at 6pm, The Legend of Blue Mamba a graphic novel created by N.D. Mazin (aka Andy Mason) is a wild and wacky look at the South African surfing scene, wrapped up in a horror comic about a legendary surfer’s valiant struggle against the exploitation of surf culture by big business and the not-so-secret plundering of our coastal resources by international mining companies.
The story began in the mid-1990s when Andy created his own Blue Mamba surf brand for his pre-teen sons and their surf-mad friends, but soon found its way into a Durban surf mag, before becoming an underground comic series published in the Durban fanzine Mamba Comix. The strip then morphed into the web-comic Azaniamania on the surfing website wavescape.co.za, before taking its final shape as a colourful graphic novel in which all of these previous strips are collected alongside a substantial addition of new material.
Drawn in the classic underground comix style pioneered by Gilbert Shelton and R. Crumb, the book documents the rise and fall of Blue Mamba, a homeless urchin who becomes a wave-riding champ and legendary soul surfer before being lured by Y.T. Sharke, the Mephistophelian CEO of Toxacorp (Pty) Ltd, into selling his face to be used in the branding of their toxic products.
When he tries to back out of this Faustian pact, Blue’s face is literally “ripped off” and he is left faceless and bleeding in the gutters of a sleazy Durban precinct known as Nu Babylon. Determined to get his face back, he becomes SubCommandante Mamba of the World Revolutionary Ecological Combat Kabal (WRECK) and mounts a fierce but ultimately doomed “armed struggle” against Toxacorp.
According to Andy, “Blue Mamba is a chameleonic repository of our deepest hopes, fears and contradictions. I suppose in the end the book asks the question: how can we live as authentic beings in a world where our heroes become brand ambassadors for corporate enterprises motivated purely by greed, our most treasured beliefs are trashed by cynical manipulators, and our everyday lives are a constant involuntary participation in the reproduction of more toxic garbage? What can we as individuals do to sort out this terrible mess?”
Now living in Muizenberg, Cape Town, Andy has been producing underground, alternative and educational comics since his “Vittoke in Azania” series first appeared in student newspapers in the late 1970s. His strips still feature many of the same characters, including The Vittokes, a new-age Durban family headed by a hippie surfer and a fanatical nudist.
Over the years, Andy has produced a cartoon history of South Africa, a series of illustrated Street Law manuals and numerous educational comics, has written a book on the history of South African cartooning and published a number of anthologies of local comix and political cartoons, and promoted the use of cartooning in popular education. While in Durban he co-founded Artworks Communications, and established the Durban Cartoon Project and Mamba Comix, where a new post-apartheid generation of South African cartoonists first saw their work in print. More recently he co-founded the Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University and continues to organise collaborative cartooning events and publications.
Now, keen to get his comix out to a more mainstream audience, Andy has embarked on the self-publication of The Azaniamania Trilogy, a collection of 30 years of underground cartooning work, of which Blue Mamba is the first book. The book, along with Blue Mamba merchandise including posters and T-shirts, will be on sale at the launch and at the KZNSA shop.
Guest speaker for the launch on Friday, December 6 at 6pm is Andy Davis, publisher of Mahala.co.za and Zigzag Surf Mag, and music will be provided by Chappy and the Chunemungers, featuring Andy’s close friends Chris Chapman, Ilan Lax, Rick and Gill Andrew, with special guest Alan Judd.
Copies of the book can be purchased online from readersden.co.za or blankbooks.co.za, and is available in Cape Town from Readers Den, The Book Lounge, Clarke’s Books and Blank Books. It will soon also be available from selected bookshops in Durban and Johannesburg. Visit www.ndmazin2.wordpress.com for more info.