South African singer, Brenda F

South African singer, Brenda Fassie, immortalised as comic book heroine

Femme Magnifique is an anthology of comic books featuring noteworthy women from all over the world. Now, South African legend, Brenda Fassie, referred to as MaBrrr by her fans, is one of the women featured in the anthology.

South African singer, Brenda F

According to the Femme Magnifique website, these comics “celebrate women who crack ceilings, take names, and change the game” and Brenda Fassie most certainly did that.

South African author Lauren Beukes wrote the words for the comic, and it was illustrated by South African illustrator Anja ‘Nanna’ Venter.

Beukes says, “I was approached by US comic book editor Shelly Bond to write on a South African for the Femme Magnifique anthology.”

Beukes had worked previously with Bond on graphic novels like Survivors’ Club and Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom.

Illustrator Venter and Beukes had not collaborated before, despite the fact that they work in the same office.

“We’ve been dying to do something together for ages,” said Venter. “She received an invitation to participate and immediately cornered me to do art.”

Beukes knew that there were many South African women who could fit the bill for the Femme Magnifique feature, but she felt that Brenda Fassie would be perfect.

“Brenda Fassie worked on so many levels, as a provocative pop star, as a lesbian icon, as a black woman who lived through apartheid and sang about the personal and the political.”

She continues, “Her songs made the personal political, from Black President to Too Late for Mama, she sang about the lived black experience. Nanna and I pitched Brenda Fassie, because we thought she would be the most fun to do.”

Fassie features alongside other female heroes like Sally Ride, Nina Simone and Michelle Obama, but Beukes is quick to point out that she felt some pressure to do justice to Fassie as an icon.

“Brenda was the first person to say that she ultimately ‘belonged to the people’. She had an immense celebrity which has always been well-documented, and part of the public domain in South Africa.”

The comic will be released in September and the team at Femme Magnifique is working on international distribution.