Good Things Come to those who Wait

Oh joy!

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After a month of waiting my postbox delivered a beauty to me.  The first DC Comics set in Uganda.  Finally the Unknown Soldier has my skin!

One of the things that turns men from potential suitors for me into ‘just friends’ in the twinkling of an eye, is my collection of comics.  The average Ugandan 30-something male does not think it attractive for a 30-something female to have a mild obsession for comic books and ingrown toenails.  That’s okay.  It means that my collection (which is pretty new) is safe and the number of frogs I kiss before I get to the prince is reduced considerably.

UScollageThe newest Unknown Soldier is authored by Joshua Dysart who has written for the Van Helsing, Hellboy and Conan series.

Art is by Alberto Ponticelli and the covers are by New X-Men designer, Igor Kordev.

Dysart (click here for his insightful blog) spent about a month in Northern Uganda doing research for the comic.  It is full of child soldiers, death, the futility of celebrity, misguided humanitarian workers and of course an unlikely hero.  In traditional Unknown Soldier style, the face of the protagonist on the cover of the comic book is bandage-wrapped; however only a few pages in, we are introduced to Moses Lwanga, pacifist doctor turned macho hero.

Apart from the location and the story of Unknown Soldier, the fact that for the first time we known the identity of the hero is the major thing that sets this comic apart from its predecessors.  I was a little put off by this … but I’m hoping it will grow on me.

Alberto Ponticelli’s art is moving.  For a native of Kampala, I felt his street scenes were a good depiction of the only life I know.

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The action scenes contain all the usual blood and gore, but it isn’t gratuitous.  The dialogue is cheesy, but that is why we love comics so much.  It is all, afterall, complimentary to the story of the Northern Uganda war that is complex, ironic and devastating.

Ignorance of what exactly the war in Northern Uganda meant for millions who suffered under it is extremely high in the rest of this country.  For many people living south of the Karuma Falls, it was too far removed from their peaceful reality to comprehend.  Misunderstanding is highest among youth under 25 living outside of the affected region.  Many of them are unaware of the future repercussions of growing up with a generation of people that were subjected – and for the most part, abandoned to – a life at the brink of the abyss.

It excites me that Unknown Soldier is that it will, perhaps, bring the story of the north to an entirely new generation.

Quoth a reviewer from The Examiner:

One of the incredible things about this series is the sense of rage, frustration, tragedy and the utter sense of seeming helplessness that spin out of this story … Many of the situations that are depicted in this series are events and happenings that actually transpire and it is in this that one finds pervading feelings of dread and horror. The idea that much of what you are seeing unfolding within the pages of this series could very likely transpire sometimes makes you wish that this piece were purely fictional.

Yes, comics are entertainment, but sometimes they should also make you think. The Unknown Soldier definitely falls into both of these categories. Chock full of action while pondering the deeper issues makes this series a must read.

Hurrah!

*****

P.S.: You can borrow my copy, of course. The terms a simple – come to my home with a bottle of 2005 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir Walker Bay, a bar of Amedei Madagascar bittersweet chocolate and most important of all, Peter Magona’s phone number.  Actually, if you just come with Peter Magona’s number, I could omit the other two demands ;-)

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33 Responses to “Good Things Come to those who Wait”

  1. If I come with my number, would you omit all the 3?
    Cant wait to get my hands on a copy…..

  2. I’ll go find my own copy…. Can’t seem to locate Joshua Magona

  3. now this peter magona chap is making us miss out on this thweetness

  4. This sounds incredible. I can’t wait to read it.

  5. All this, and you love comics, too? AWESOME. :)

  6. Dang! How do I get a copy?

  7. OOOOOH I can’t wait to read it!!!!!!!!!
    Also, this sounds like a great way to weed out the frogs from the princes: “The average Ugandan 30-something male does not think it attractive for a 30-something female to have a mild obsession for comic books”. Idiots. Who DOESN’T love comic books??????

    • You’d be surprised … It’s mostly the people who think comics are not real books. Apparently I am only allowed to read Machiavelli.

  8. Wow, a comic book set in Uganda. I need to get me some. I have Peter Magona’s borther’s phone number… does that count?

  9. i have peter magona’s number…. atleast i know someone on my finger tips who has it , will you be true to your word and give me it if i give you it? meanwhile i love comics…peeps still wonder why i collected supastrikas

  10. Anything that would bring the horror of the last two decades into the world’s social consciousness is a good thing. The Unknown Soldier being set in Ug is the way to go. Long ago, someone realised that the way to get people interested or even remotely miffed at the impunity going on against a people is to package the entertainment in a way that would force us to see. I saw Watchmen after Baz wrote about it and it left me thiking deeply, mostly about the world as viewed by Americans but also about the future in which I am expected to be a player. Maybe this will pull more closet comic addicts out and consequently, make us own up to our biggest folly – abandoning a people who needed us most in their hour of need. And do something to reduce the inevitable effects of that period.

  11. @lulu: for the longest period i was the #1 supastrikas fan!!! untouchable for a distance of many miles.
    @Tumwi: good on you for standing your ground. no comics no canoodling.

  12. I think I like the idea more than most others of this field. And I’d seen that artist’s weblog, and it seems he’s devoid of the angering smug assuredness that most save-the-worlders suffer from. That is a good thing. People should know that these issues are beyond reducing to simple mantras, and a graphic telling of the story is a pretty good start. At the very least, well ahead of the “Save Darfur” knickers. I’m not kidding.

    Now, Peter Magona. I don’t quite know who he is, but the evil irony of life is that I have to find out, get his number off him (will I have to dress in drag for this?), give you the number, then get the book. And it is all generally unfair, but hey.

  13. Very Impressive Tumwi…
    Thanks for sharing this…

  14. i need your details…your email at least. please.
    want to invite you for somethign but have no way to contact you.

  15. Great art work! Gd to see Xmen ppl working on this

  16. Please contact me. I tried emailing you but I haven’t received a reply. I have an interesting proposition for you connected to this comic book! I hope you’re happy to take me up on my offer! Thanks, Emma.

  17. I’m so excited to see this!! Thank you for blogging about my book! I’m always jazzed and terrified to see what Ugandans think of the work, and it’s wonderful to find your voice out there. If I ever get back to Kampala (and I pray that I will), I’ll buy you dinner!

  18. Wow- I had no idea such a thing existed. Thanks for bringing this to my attention- I will definitely hunt this down.

  19. @all – I have an offer of dinner from Joshua Dysart. You can all keep Peter Magona’s number suckers!
    :-D ;-) :-P

  20. HA! Now I just have to find some way to get back to the land I love.

  21. Hey! Come on the BBC with me. The producer wants to pair me up with a comic book/graphic novel fan in Uganda who I could talk to as part of our sequence. She may have already contacted you. You can be totally honest about the book, confront me, damn me, praise me (preferably the latter), whatever. Want to do it? Sounds like fun and could drive massive attention to your worthy blog. Feel free to contact me at Dysart@gmail.com.

    • Ah … I got the email from the Beeb. I thought I was too late to participate. Will write you in a bit.

      • It’s not too late if you can do the discussion on Sunday! I’m off work today but will contact you tomorrow (Saturday) with more info. If you could send your contact number to my BBC email address then that would be great. Hope you can do it! Thanks, Emma R.

  22. thanks for this Tumwi

  23. Guys,

    If you love good books at very low prices in Kampala, 2009 is yours. I am gonna open a bookstore with a collection that matches or exceeds Aristoc Booklex and am gonna sell books at very low prices.

    If you like John Grisham, Lublum, Debbie Macomber, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Covey (7 habbits), Kiyosaki, Trump (millionaire), Weight loss books, real romance and all the latest textbooks, I am begining next year.

    Please let me know any other authors you guys like. I am currently in the U.S. putting together the books and some are destined to arrive in December.

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