Velocity – comics from the southern hemisphere [interview]

Most people I meet have never set foot in a comic store (despite there being, like, five in Jo’burg), let alone read anything decent. Most people rightfully associate comic books with the American market. Some of them maybe know about the big comic industry in the UK. Local (South African) publications, however, go largely unnoticed unless they’re your newspaper strips or, I guess, Super Strikas! (which is a success, as far as I can see – go them!). As it turns out, the same cannot be said for the continent to our “right”, who have a rather prolific indie comics scene. Something South Africa seems to be seriously lacking. Seems that may be about to change. Comic fans and creators from ZA+ and Australia have decided to get together and produce Velocity, a comics anthology that will have a distinct lack of caped crusaders in its 104 pages. I hit up Moray Rhoda, the project’s organiser (and a contributor) on the SA side.

Who is Moray Rhoda? What exactly do you do?

Moray: I contributed to the book – writing Requiem for Rayaan Cassiem, writing Darker Forces for Daniël Hugo and did the writing and art for a 4 page story called Chosen: a Summoner’s tale. Other than that – I was one of the Igubu Comics Collective founders in 2001, we produced IgubuZer0 1-3, IgubuHelix 1&2 and Offcuts. The group split and I produced Clockworx 1 & 2 under the Insurrection Studios label. I ran Comix Brew  2006/2007 and I was also the Art Director of Media 24’s Beat Comics Studio – we produced Unicity, Kasiwash and Mzansi Beats comics. I know – no-one’s ever heard of these, but that’s how things go in SA comics. Other than the M24 gig, I have always been as indie as hell… All of which is very useful when one tries to find artists for something like Velocity and also from an organisational side.

In real life – I am (mostly) a magazine designer, but I have managed to get illustrations into a few local magazines as well as my most recent thing was doing illustrations for a kids book – it will be out in a few months…

Go ahead and describe what Velocity is exactly, for the laymen and women who aren’t reading comics (the guys & gals who refer to them all as “graphic novels”)?
Velocity is a Graphic Novel Anthology title, which means that it’s a big book (104 pages) featuring work by a range of different artists & writers. It is a Fantasy and Sci-Fi themed book and the important part of the collaboration is that it’s SA & Australia contributors only.
How did the project come about?
One word: Neville [Howard, ex-pat comics nut, of whom something will be written later on this blog. Not one word anymore, hey?]. He was running around in Oz and seeing how vibrant their indie market is: B&W and colour, digest size, normal comics, superhero stuff, horror… the list goes on and on. So he started the conversation with me about putting together an anthology that would give SA and Oz creators a platform to get a book out. I have a rubber arm.
Does your online preview include previews of all the artists and writers’ work?
The online preview does indeed give one a preview of all the SEQUENTIAL artists. There are additional pinups that we didn’t preview as we felt that a) we wanted readers to know what level to expect from the stories and b) we had to leave some pages for the printed book.
The cover date says Winter 2011, but when exactly is Velocity due out?
We launch Velocity in June and July respectively. Australia launch will be at the Sydney Supanova convention 17-19 June 2011 [There’s also a pre-launch in Melbourne for selected guests to get their hands on the book, that’ll be the week before! – Nev] and Neville will be doing that. In SA we launch 2 July 2011 at the Grahamstown Arts Festival as part of the Co-Mix Pavilion – some of the Velocity artists will be onhand to sign books. Gauteng folks will have to wait until [local gaming and comic convention] rAge for signed copies, I am organising to come up for that and to have some Velocity artists there…
What sort of content can we look forward to when it hits stands?
An entertaining read hopefully. We have stories about fantasy worlds, sword & sorcery, humourous tales, alien invasions, steampunk worlds… a lot of different content and art styles. The book is PG 13 as there are some (very few) scenes with violence: in LOTR type worlds with goblins, orcs and ogres and Alien/Predator type stories with nasty little chest-burster/facehugger creatures, the creature designs can be a bit scary to kids.
Where will we be able to find Velocity when it does come out?
Comic Specialty shops and online – at this point Exclusive Books and CNA type of sellers would push the pricing too high to be viable. The recommended selling price by the way is $23  $28 in Oz and R190 in SA. [That is lank cheap, kids.]
Find out more about Velocity at their website. I’ll definitely be following up on this one when it comes out.
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