Popular South African YouTuber Menzi Mzimela's new heroic graphic novel Mount Olympus merges African mythology with South Africa' hard-hitting reality of crime and survival.
Menzi Mzimela, creator of top YouTube channel Anarchadium, became a digital household name for his role in the wildly successful reality shows Microwave Boys and Broke Niggaz, which followed the lives of Johannesburg's young men. Mzimela is back in the spotlight. This time, he's using animation to confront South Africa's real-life issues. Mount Olympus is a graphic novel that takes viewers on an epic journey where Johannesburg's grim aspects are brought to life through powerful characters in a dark fictional world. The young entertainer and graphic designer has called for South Africans to help him raise R250 000, within 60 days, for the creation of Mount Olympus.
Inspired by Greek Mythology, Mount Olympus delves into the underground life that dominates Johannesburg, and the greater South Africa. Mzimela explains the intersection of crime and politics with the mythical:
"It's something that has become very normal in our country (South Africa).We don't play with our socio-political issues in a way that is entertaining. Most of the time it's very hard-hitting and sad, but I feel like it doesn't always have to be. There's room for us to use it for action and high drama. There's something very entertaining about taking real-world issues and throwing them into a fictional space..."
Johannesburg is known as a multicultural cosmopolitan city with different ways of living and beliefs. Moreover, the city is known for its clubbing culture and has quickly grown to become a holiday destination. However there is a grim side to the city, a whole other world that is a far cry from the rooftop parties and scenic music video locations. There is political warfare, illicit drug trades, human trafficking, drug lords, gang leaders and of course in Africa many shamans and charlatans. With this in mind, Mzimela states that it's important to have stories of African heroes that Black boys and girls can relate to. The call for new narratives around Black lives is always open, Mzimela says. "I think most South Africans really enjoy animated stories. We just don't have enough of our own! I think South Africans would enjoy watching and reading animated stories where they see characters and places that they know in the real world. There's something very cool about that." Mount Olympus is a notable contribution to the country's newly-energised comic and animation scene.
Mzimela expressed that traditionally trained visual artist Loyiso Mkhize, who recently created one of South Africa's most distinguishable comic books Kwezi, and worked with DC Comics, is an inspirational standout comic. Mzimela has called South Africans to help him create a "uniquely entertaining story that will leave them with profound satisfaction" by donating to the Mount Olympus project. "I think the story I have to tell is many things wrapped into one — it's eye-opening, entertaining, interactive, and profound. It's a unique take on an alternate South Africa that is fictional but doesn't feel too far away from our reality," shares Mzimela. Donations can be made on Jumpstarter.
Watch Menzi Mzimela's fund-raising campaign video for his upcoming graphic novel Mount Olympus below.
'Mount Olympus' JumpStarter Campaign. I need your help to raise R250 000. www.youtube.com