Meet Solly
South Africa’s most popular newspaper comic has a new character.

This past week, Solly walked into Madam & Eve’s strip - and neighbourhood - opening up a whole world of prospects for stories and gags.

Solly is immediately set upon by Mother Anderson, who has taken it upon herself to defend the neighbourhood against the likes of him and the lady who walks the streets selling mielies (corn) at the top of her voice. In fact, it soon turns out that these two scourges of middle class privilege already know one another!

Solly’s trolly, filled to the brim with odds and ends (some of which will surprise you), is a prop that will surely prove to be a bottomless resource of material for the strip’s creators Stephen Francis (who writes), and Rico (who draws).Solly Moves In

Africartoons asked Rico what inspired the addition of a new character. He told us that it was a recent newspaper article that Stephen found about cheerful street people getting on with their lives in spite of the many hardships and disappointments they face. The story featured a local street person who is known to them, and so Solly was literally drawn from the streets of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

Stephen imagined how a street philosopher could enrich the strip and both cartoonists immediately saw an opportunity to add a human touch and bring some light relief, while addressing serious issues.     

It is clear that Solly has been written into the strip to represent the millions of South Africans who have been left behind by the dispensation that ushered in democracy (but little else for the masses), shortly after the strip was born some twenty years ago. He joins the squatter camp couple who also provide a voice to the forgotten ones.

It’s been two years since the strip’s creators  last introduced and named a new character.

Councilman Vusi arrived in time for the 2011 local elections, as a useful stand in local politician. About the same time, Freedom - the Rastafarian gardener - found gainful employment in the strip after he was developed for the pilot of Madam & Eve’s animated show. Both characters have since managed to hold on to their coveted jobs as occasional support cast to the main characters of Madam, Eve, Mother Anderson and Thandi.

There are other walk ons who help enrich the storyline, such as the ubiquitous mielie lady, and Thandi’s nameless school friend, and their teacher, and the principal who we never see, but is often visited by Thandi. And then there is a vast cast of generic extras playing Eve’s scheming group of friends, and Mother Anderson’s bridge club.

Other characters have fallen by the wayside over the years, including Marge (the neighbour), Madam’s son Eric (a founding character who hasn’t been seen for ages), and Eve’s boyfriend who is so out of the picture that even Rico can’t recall his name!

Will Solly stay? We certainly hope so, as does Thandi who has already befriended him. But Rico is cautious, saying “Time will tell if he sticks around. You can’t pre-empt these things too much”.

Meanwhile, Madam tells her mother that Solly will soon get bored, and move on (to another strip, perhaps?). But he seems determined to stay. And he appears to have some big name connections who owe him a favour or two that might help him in his quest.

You can read Solly’s debut strips HERE.


Posted on Mar 17, 2013 by Africartoons Bookmark and Share