AMA: Comic writing in Ghana.

Nana Kwame Antwi
Jul 21, 2018

I will talk about my Ghanaian comic, Baaba. Details will include sources of inspiration, using social media to get the right artist to illustrate it and the app that it's available on.

Also references to  Facebook groups for Ghanaian comic creators and enthusiasts and a  comic centric websites in Ghana.

Also, future plans for a loosely connected comic universe that is in the works.

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What are some of the challenges you have faced in writing and producing your comic books?
Jul 23, 3:20AM EDT0

Writing 'Baaba' was difficult because I had to make sure that the rules of the world that I had created made sense and that they were followed by all the characters.

Finding the right artist was extremely hard and took me several months. Then I had to find a publisher willing to publish a digital comic about the Asafo vs Kakai.

Fortunately Leti Arts was willing to publish comics like mine across the country.

Jul 23, 9:31AM EDT0
What is your writing style and who is your source of inspiration for such a writing style?
Jul 23, 1:45AM EDT0

I honestly don't have a particular writing style. I prefer to keep my stories short, simple and fast paced.

I would say that I am inspired by old Ghanaian folktale storytellers.

Jul 23, 9:25AM EDT0
What do you remember about reading comics as a kid? What interested you in the comics medium?
Jul 23, 12:24AM EDT0

I remember that the storylines were interesting and imaginative. Social commentary was kept to a minimum and it was the plot that drew me in, not the race or gender of the character.

It was either comics or novels and  publishers seemed uninterested in publishing books that weren't educational texts or romance novels.

Kadi Yao Tay of Squid Mag, a magazine that focuses on comics and games, further convinced me to take the comics option last year and helped me with my search for an artist.

Jul 23, 9:10AM EDT0
Self publishing has become common today. What are your thoughts on this?
Jul 22, 10:39PM EDT0

It's great. If a publisher is unwilling to publish your work because it doesn't suit the usual trend or because of his or her own bias, then self publishing is the way to go.

Jul 23, 8:56AM EDT0
In terms of the writing process itself, do you write out the story first before channelling it into comic form?
Jul 22, 10:52AM EDT0

Yes, it's important to have the script written out first. It may take dozens of revisions and edits. 

When everyone involved with the comic is fully satisfied with the script, then it can be channeled into a comic format.

Jul 22, 2:28PM EDT0
How has the industry changed since you've been involved? Have fan tastes changed? How does this affect your work?
Jul 22, 3:39AM EDT0

I can say that there have been calls for comics in Ghana to have a more local feel, from clothing to names and plots.

It feels like people are now less interested in spandex and secret identities for local characters.

I guess that creates a demand for more originality in storytelling that separates it from something you might see in Marvel or DC.

So for me, that means more research into obscure traditions and trying to see how genres like mystery or science fiction fit into the Ghanaian setting. 

Jul 22, 7:07AM EDT0
What do you think will be the future of your field? do you see Baaba making an impact on readers?
Jul 22, 2:45AM EDT0

Hopefully, we will be able to see more paper back comics in the country in the coming years.

Most of the comics are currently in a digital format . Leti Arts is currently making games based on their comics, so hopefully that will also become the norm.

I think Baaba will make a big impact on readers. It deals with the themes of good vs evil, and there a heavy use of technology in the story, which will get them talking.

It can inspire other Ghanaians to come up with their own comic titles and be part of popular culture.

Jul 22, 6:58AM EDT0
How interested do you think youth in Ghana towards art and comics?
Jul 21, 9:43AM EDT0

There is a growing interest in general art. For comics however, there is a greater interest in comicbook films than comics. 

Hopefully, more Ghanaian will be drawn to comics over time with a huge Afrocomix app event planned in September and the recent release of webcomics and other comic mediums this year.

Jul 21, 6:29PM EDT0
Do you attend comic conventions? Does Ghana have some comic conventions to go to?
Jul 21, 9:43AM EDT0

Due to family issues, I personally have been unable to but there was a comics and smoothies event held in OSU, Ghana this year.

There's also the annual Nerdcon Ghana event.

Jul 21, 6:24PM EDT0
How would you describe your comic Baaba, what is the plot of the comic?
Jul 20, 7:14PM EDT0

It's an action SciFi Ghanaian digital comic split into two issues. 'Baaba: The recruit' and 'Baaba : Into the kakai lands'.

The titular Baaba is recruited by the elite Asafo Company of her city. The reason? She has to help them to win a war against monsters from another dimension!

With her knowledge of inter dimensional travel, she might  be the best person for the job.

Jul 21, 6:22PM EDT0
When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?
Jul 20, 5:17PM EDT0

This year, after failing to get hired at Leti Arts five years ago and not getting too far with another creative firm last year.

Jul 21, 6:16PM EDT0
What tools did you use to create Baaba and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
Jul 20, 5:54AM EDT0

Books and internet articles. Dictionaries, historical texts and social studies notes among others were the perfect tools for helping me to complete my script on my laptop.

Jul 21, 6:12PM EDT0
How would you describe your typical work routine?
Jul 20, 5:35AM EDT0

Well, I start research in the morning, then draft in the afternoon in a journal and then draft again in the evening on my laptop.

Jul 21, 5:53PM EDT0
How much revision or editing do you do in your work and when is the prefered point to revise or edit a comic before publication?
Jul 20, 2:59AM EDT0

It can takemonths or years to revise and edit just the script!

I think it's best to revise and edit the comic with fellow creatives for two months or at least a year before publication so that everyone is in agreement as to to how the comic should be.

Jul 21, 5:48PM EDT0
What do you consider to be the best advice you’ve ever regarding your comic career?
Jul 20, 2:31AM EDT0

Tell your own stories no matter where you're from or someone else will tell them for you and reap the benefits.

Support other creates around you anyway that you can.

Jul 21, 5:33PM EDT0
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
Jul 20, 2:30AM EDT0

Well I read on books and articles on the warrior traditions and folklore when I feel that I'm out of juice.

Occasionally I'll see a scene in a movie or documentary and think, 'That's interesting'.

Talking with my little brother also helps since he is interested in manga  which is very creative.

Jul 21, 5:08PM EDT0
What part of creating Baaba has given you the most personal satisfaction?
Jul 20, 12:43AM EDT0

The various genres that I've been able to mix into the comic. 

Science fiction for the existence of other dimensions, fantasy for for the deadly kakai and action for the fight scenes between the elite Asafo and their otherworldly foes.

It's been very exciting for me!

Jul 21, 5:01PM EDT0
Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
Jul 19, 11:56PM EDT0

My parents allowed me to type stories  on their computer when I was twelve. Back then my characters were a bunny and a dog.

It was terribly unoriginal but they supported me and even pointed out flaws.

I wouldn't have been able to get my bachelor's degree without their financial assistance and get the funding for my comic without them.

Jul 21, 4:49PM EDT0
What is the most important big idea that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
Jul 19, 9:28PM EDT0

In comics, always revise your work. What would have looked great two years ago might not be so great now.

So keep working on that script till you feel that no more major changes need to be made.

Jul 21, 4:42PM EDT0
How difficult was it finding an illustrator your comics and how did you go about finding one?
Jul 19, 7:19PM EDT0

It took me a few weeks and fortunately, there was a list of great Ghanaian illustrators on Omgghana.com.

All I had to was look at their work on Facebook, contact them and set a meeting.

Jul 21, 4:35PM EDT0
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