It probably comes as no surprise to most people that the most profitable African comic book in history is one about football (or soccer). The comic revolves around a player named Shakes and his football team the “Supa Strikas”. Readers follow Shakes and his team as they make their bid to raise the Super League trophy (equivalent to UEFA Champions League). Considered to be the world’s greatest soccer team, Supa Strikas embark on numerous adventures around the world of soccer from nearby countries to other continents. Supa Strikas explores the roots of the game (from Mexico to China and other countries), meet some of greatest players (past and present) while confronting the games most unscrupulous coaches and dastardly players!
The story centers around the team’s young striker, Shakes, whom many believe is the best striker in the world. But for Shakes and his teammates, being the best is only the beginning. The game’s global legacy and the players who dream of being crowned Super League champs mean Shakes must constantly challenge himself to remain in contention. As a result, he often finds himself spearheading the team’s exploration of the unknown – be it a strange land, a strange opposition or a new soccer challenge.
Supa Strikas combines humor (often in the form of Shakes’ best mate, Spenza), action, technology and exploration in the context of a real soccer challenge. The stories are usually positive life messages that deal with self-actualization, fair play, teamwork and respect.
A list of the main characters:
- Shakes (Striker, Main Character)
- Big Bo (Goal Keeper, Vice Captain)
- Blok (Defender)
- North Shaw (Defender)
- Dancing Rasta (Midfielder, Captain)
- Cool Joe (Midfielder, Left Winger)
- Klaus (Defender, Midfielder, Striker)
- Twisting Tiger (Midfielder, Right Winger)
- El Matador (Striker)
Contrary to popular belief that the comic was purely a South African invention, the actual (at least according to wikipedia) started in Nigeria.
The Original series was started in Nigeria, but was later bought by a company in South Africa by Johannes chabane Matsimbi which led to the change of some character names like; Segs to Shakes. The comic series was first published in South Africa in 2000, following the format of the British comic Roy of the Rovers. Afterwards publication spread to various sub-Saharan African countries. By 2002 publications in the neighboring countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia. Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda soon followed.
The comic receives sponsorship from several companies, including Nike, Caltex, and other South African businesses. Consequently, the sponsoring firms have their product names placed on various panels.
The series was based on the life of Thuthuka “Terry” Zwane, a boy from the Soweto area of Johannesburg. With demand for the comic growing increasingly global, Supa Strikas’ core characters remained local but a more international cast grew around them, including characters of Asian, Latin American and European extraction.
Today, the comic is available across Africa.
The comic has also been adapted into an animated series by Animasia Studios. The series debuted in 2009 with 47 episodes – each with approximately 22 minute of run-time – and aired in selected regions until 2010. The animated series is still showing on Nickelodeon Africa.
Supa Strikas 2017 trailer below: