An idle chat during a work break a fortnight ago brought out a forgotten aspect of our childhood: the African photo comic magazine. With heroes like ‘fearless fang’ (an african tarzan) and the ‘son of Samson’ (an african superman in a wrestler’s body suit) we waited every month back in the seventies and eighties for latest edition to hit the news stands. They were sold under the brand name ‘African Film’.
The leading photo comic magazine was of course ‘the Spear’, featuring Lance Spearman, the super cool detective who drove around town in an impossibly named coupe (the stingray), sporting a panama hat and smoking a cigar. Not to be outdone by 007, he too had a bevy of beauties at his beck and call. He was super cool and we all wanted to be like him, right down to the suit and the bow tie.
He pursued the baddies with gusto, outwitting their conspiracies,over coming evil and saving the day…….all in must one issue of the magazine. It was really a portfolio of black and white photos, complete with oval shaped text boxes that included all the sound effects that a kick and a quick upper cut to the jaw could possibly produce. Month in and month out we were spell bound by this African hero hunting down villains and bringing them to justice.
Nostalgia for this long lost mode of story telling has hit me pretty bad and searching for copies of the lost art form has knocked me out for the ten count. All the Internet could cough up was the fact that the series of photo comics were part of the Drum publications stable, but speculation was that the characters were from south Africa, perhaps Nigeria, perhaps Uganda (but I doubt the last bit).
No real photo of any of the characters from the comic is available, Only 2 pictures of the actual magazine can be found. And that is a sad tragedy.