About Andy Mason
Andy Mason (nom de plume N.D. Mazin) is a writer/artist, editor, cartoonist, publisher and communications professional with a Masters degree in cultural and media studies and more than 30 years’ experience in South African communications, publishing and campaign work, with a strong emphasis on visual narrative strategies for public education, mainly in the NGO sector.
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As co-founder and Creative Director of Artworks Communications (Durban, 1989-2008) and co-founder and Head of the Comic Art Unit of the Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University (2009-2015), Andy Mason has contributed extensively to the development of visual narrative, particularly comic art, as a vehicle for public participation in South Africa.
His numerous publications include academic research papers, educational comics, underground comix, illustrated training manuals, anthologies of political cartooning and graphic literature, and a major historical study of South African comic art. He has organised group exhibitions, colloquia, workshops and public events to promote comic art in South Africa and has participated in a number of international conferences and events. He is particularly interested in problems of race and representation in satirical art and has published internationally on this subject.
In 2008 he relocated from Durban to Muizenberg, Cape Town, where he co-founded the Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University and taught a course on Graphic Narrative Studies at the Stellenbosch Academy for Photography and Design. During this period he also provided media consultation services to OneWorld Sustainable Investments, the DG Murray Trust and other clients, and assisted in establishing Cape Town’s first annual comics convention, the Open Book Comics Fest, alongside other cartooning and comic art initiatives, exhibitions and publications.
He has been self-publishing underground comix since the mid-1970s. His self-published anthologies of local comics include PAX: Pre-Azanian Comix 1-6 (Durban Cartoon Project, 1985-7) and Mamba Comix 1-5 (Artworks Communications, 2003-2007), and two editions of GrafLit: Contemporary South African Comic Art (CCIBA/Mamba Media/Youngblood Foundation, 2013-4). He also co-edited (with John Curtis) two anthologies of political cartooning, Don’t Joke! (2009) and Just for Kicks! (Jacana Media, 2010).
As an academic writer Andy has produced a number of journal articles on aspects of South African cartooning and comic art, several of which have been included in international anthologies. His critical history of South African comic art, What’s So Funny? Under the Skin of South African Cartooning (Double Storey Books, Cape Town, 2010) is regarded as the most authoritative work on the subject.
In 2013 he self-published The Legend of Blue Mamba, the first volume of Azaniamania, the four-part trilogy of his collected underground comix. The second volume, Apocalypse Wow! is currently in production, and includes, inter alia, Poynton Shute’s Coronavirus Novel, Moses Avid’s Mystic Moment and The Klaarkloof Chronicles (2020-21); The Big Frag (aka Poynton’s Quest) (2018); AzaniaMania 2 (2012); The Big Chillum (1985-7); Vittoke in Azania (1987-8), and Cogent and Crint in The Quest for a Moral Aesthetic (1975-6).
As a curator, Andy has co-curated a number of comic art exhibitions and events, including Co/Mix: Comic Art/Mixed Media (National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, 2011), Co/Mix @ Open Book Literary Festival (Cape Town 2012), and the Open Book Comics Festival (Cape Town, 2013). In 2013 he launched the GrafLit project, a CCIBA project in association with the Youngblood Art Foundation and Mamba Media, assisted by Su Opperman, Roberto Millan, Jean de Wet and Keda Gomes. This intervention has resulted in the publication of two editions of the GrafLit anthology of contemporary South African comic art combined with group exhibitions (Youngblood Gallery, Cape Town, 2013-14) showcasing a new generation of artists working at the interface of cartooning and fine art. These were followed by two group exhibitions, Graphic Radicals at the Cutting Edge of Comic Art at the Alive Café in Muizenberg (2014) and Speechless: South African Comic Artists on the State of the Nation at the Erdmann Contemporary Gallery, Cape Town (2015), both co-curated with Su Opperman, followed by a series of community art exhibitions in Muizenberg in 2017 and 2018.
Andy currently runs a virtual studio project in Cape Town, the Azania Mania Art Kolektiv (AMAK), which provides opportunities for talented young artists and designers to provide specialist services to clients in the civil society, public and private sectors. Since 2012, he has also provided a conference cartooning service for conferences, workshops and scenario exercises, and in 2015 began running ToonZA cartooning workshops for young people of all ages who can’t stop drawing. His latest initiative, ToonStorming, seeks to develop cartoon-based workshop strategies for solving organizational problems and generating new ideas.