The project Africa Comics, whose nucleus is the Africa e Mediterraneo Award for best unpublished comic strip by an African author, has been active since 2002. The project intends to introduce to a wide and varied audience, with special attention to the youth, the artistic productions within the comics by African authors. The Africa Comics project has become an important source of information and material for a large number of researchers of African and cultural studies, academics, professors, journalists and near-graduates.
The availability of comics originating from all over Sub-Saharan Africa is a great tool for anyone who wishes to understand African modernity through the creativity expressed by this continent. In the comic strips the artists present all aspects of the reality of this continent, both artistic and not: literature, news, influence of European art, references to African sculpture, advertising, political satire, AIDS, human rights violation, oral narrative tradition, media, magic and the fight against illiteracy.
In the 6 publications the competition has received more than 600 narrations from 25 African countries. Over the years the award has been supported by international organizations such as the European Commission, The Francophone Agency, by institutions such as the Prince Claus Fund and by Italian banking foundations. Every publication has seen the participation of various Italian regions, starting with Emilia Romagna, who allowed us to get the project underway, followed by the Piemont region and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. The third and fourth publications were sponsored by the Italian Commission of UNESCO. The panel of judges included important critics and authors, both European and African, starting with the comic strip expert Vittorio Giardino, who in 2002 worked enthusiastically on the evaluation of the entries. Over the years, Africa Comics has collaborated with various African and European institutions to promote and spread the work of the project including the Art School of Tétouan (Marocco), the Sasa Sema Publications (Kenya), the French Cultural Centre of Bamako (Mali), the Stellenbosch University (South Africa), the Afrique dessinée association and the Atelier Fons.
The award has overseen and bought to light more or less young talents, providing the public every two years with an anthology from which emerge new styles, narratives, techniques, but above all the personalities of the authors themselves, some of which have confirmed the decisions of the panel of judges and hereafter established themselves in the international comics. Leafing through the past prints, one notes the strips by the Congolese Pat Masioni, who won the first publication and has subsequently made a name for himself in France with two volumes of Rwanda 94, consecrated by the editor Glénat, and debuted in the United States with Vertigo/DC Comics in the famous series Unknown Soldier. In addition we find some cartoons by Pahé, who now publishes with the Swiss editor Paquet with La vie de Pahé et la série Dipoula. We can also read the surreal stories by the Anglo/South African Joe Daly, who has since published a series of books in the United States with Fantagraphic Books, among which is Dungean Quest. Book one won the judge’s prize at the Angouleme Festival in 2010. We also note other authors such as Didier Kasai, Ngangue, Faustin Titi, Hector Sonon, Pov, Japhet Miagotar, who are asserting their professionalism with interesting projects and collaborations.