Lwazi Msipha, has turned his love for cartoons into a full-time career. He has created, written and animated a new show called My Cartoon Friend. The show is being aired on American cable television channel Cartoon Network.
The 13-episode production is about the friendship between a 2D version of Msipha and Themba, a cartoon character. The two co-existing in the same world learning to live with each other as their friends.
Msipha’s big break came after attending an animation festival in France in 2018. At the time he was still a first year student at the Animation School pursuing a Diploma in animation. He was able to attend the festival thanks to funding received from the National Film and Video Foundation and a French company that worked closely with the University of Witwatersrand's Digital Lab Africa.
Msipha says while attending the conference in 2018, he also had a one-month residency in France. He used the festival and the time spent in France to market himself and his work to members of Cartoon Network. In 2020 Msipha’s hard work paid off.
“During the hard lockdown I received an email from Cartoon Network asking me to create a show that inspires kids and makes them laugh. I had no prior experience but did not let that stop me. I managed to deliver an awesome show through a sponsorship from Netflix."
Masipha says he has always been passionate about cartoons and his love for the art developed even more after watching an animated show called Dragon Ball Z.
He says when Dragon Ball Z aired on the television, he noticed that all the children in his neighbourhood enjoyed the show so much they would stop playing on the streets.
This prompted Msipha to do further research on the art of animation and develop a career from it. His mother also encouraged him to study animation and supported him.
Msipha is set to jet off to France soon, where he will be pursuing a Masters in animation at the Gobelins School of Imagery in Paris.
He says he would like to plough back all the knowledge that he will receive into the South African animation industry.
“I plan on creating a programme that teaches children how to animate, by showing them that it is as simple as using a cell- phone.”
Msipha plans to open an animation studio that tells South African stories.