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Loyiso Mkize takes on Batman

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

A South African artist has pencilled part of the latest US Batman comic.Loyiso Mkize is making a name for himself in the world of comic books.  

Butterworth-born visual artist Loyiso Mkize (34) is no stranger to superheroes, having created one himself in the form of Kwezi – the first South African superhero.

But now, Mkize himself is certainly flying high, after working with DC Comics in the United States, where his artwork now features in a Batman comic book series.

The American company commissioned Mkize to draw a character called Batwing, for a Batman comic series called Batman: Urban Legends #4 by Marvel Universe.

According to Mkize, he first caught the attention of DC Comics’ editor Ben Abernathy in 2018.

“I met the editors at the first Comic Con Africa in Johannesburg. They had seen and heard about Kwezi, and when they met me and my team, the relationship started,” he says.

Kwezi, one of Mkize’s most treasured works, is a comic book about a 19-year-old city boy who discovers he has superpowers. Mkize has successfully published 15 issues of Kwezi over the past seven years.

The comic book is enjoying great success.

“It is making waves and we are launching the next collective editions, episode 13 to 15. We also just won the Road to Annecy Pitching Competition at the Cape Town International Animation Festival. It was a big win for us."

Dream come true

Speaking about his new opportunity, Mkize says he wanted to be part of the DC Comics team for as long as he can remember.

“I grew up with Batman and the Bat-family. DC Comics is something a person like me has looked up to. It churns out entertainment, especially the stuff I grew up on, and to be in the same stable is pretty cool.

“As a visual artist, there is only a couple of spaces that mean pivotal things for your career… This is one of them.”

He says the work for the Batman comic book series was done remotely, as the commissioning happened during the Coronavirus Disease restrictions.

“Communication was remote, from conception to the comic’s completion. There was a lot to do and I was working with a much bigger network of teams, which was a challenge. It took me three weeks to draw the character, which is rather standard.”

Mkize is also nurturing a long-standing career in the fine arts, in which he has had five solo and six group exhibitions.