(Work in progress 1 May 2017)
In 2002 while I was at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, I felt like I was in a crisis, at a crossroads, where I was 19 years old, had created many art projects and done some commercial ones, but none of them seemed to have any golden thread through them. I needed to create something – anything – and keep doing that thing for the rest of my life, so that it’d keep building on itself and be my own ‘thing’.
I was also meditating a lot at the time and believed that incredible things can come when ‘thought’ isn’t obscuring the creative process, where it’s more an automatic thing, channeled perhaps. I was really into James Jarvis’ work at the time – my dad had brought me an in-flight magazine with his illustration on the front cover and inside – and he drew one image of himself in his room, which I loved. So, I put pen to paper and what came out was ‘Mike’s Universe’ – a cartoon version of me.
I thought this was perhaps a little too personal, so the next thing I drew was ‘Bru & Boegie’. You can see the first comics here. It was two guys in boxers, and one of them was this guy I had drawn back in high school as one of the crowd members for a band poster I drew for our high school band ‘Regular’.
So, there it was. These two skommie looking bald dudes in boxers, with their hands in their pants. ‘Ok’ I thought. ‘I can do this’. So, I drew the first comics on these massive A1 sheets. The first few comics were incredibly painful to create, like giving birth.
I got the first comics published in Andy Mason’s comic compendium ‘Mamba Comix’, like a kind of underground South African comix scene book, really nicely made.
I left my Fine Arts degree at Rhodes unfinished, and went to Joburg to study at Bond University, a BComm degree (Business of Communications). I kept drawing Bru & Boegie comics while I was studying, putting up a new comic every week or so on my website ‘bruandboegie.co.za’, until I was putting up a new comic every day. I got the comic published in PC Format magazine (the content had a tech slant), and I got some traction with a few devoted followers. I started working at Red Pepper Pictures production studio in Linden, Joburg animating a kids show I co-created called ‘Jozi Zoo’, and a pre-school kids called ‘Cool Catz’ on eTV. I still made dem Bru & Boegie comics. I bought some exhibition space at rAge expo in Joburg at Coca-Cola Dome, printed a new colour comic and made a bunch of t-shirts, hired a gorilla suit for my brother to wear and give out comics and did my thang.
There were enough comics to put a little comic book together, so I printed 100, got the first Bru & Boegie comics framed in glass and went down to Durban for a new Mamba Comix launch. There, my Bru & Boegie were exhibited, I had created a new Bru & Boegie comic in colour for the new Mamba (or maybe this one was black & white), and sold my comics.
I moved down to Plettenberg Bay and kept doing Bru & Boegie comics. I got them printed in our local paper CXPress which came out every 2 weeks. Around this time I started running out of capital, and hustled to get freelance animation work. This then took up much of time. I included Bru & Boegie as small easter eggs hidden in the Goldfish videos I’ve animated. I created fewer Bru & Boegie comics, but the ones I did make were very rough and loose, and often dealed with break-ups from girls, or as somewhat humorous parallels to how I was generally freaking out about life and everything.
Then, I had enough content for a big book, and created ‘Bru & Boegie’s BIG BOOK OF STUFFS’, got it printed with a colour cover and perfectly bound, and gave these comics away as gifts and sold a few. I also made new Bru & Boegie shirts, ‘Twalaapie Kings’.
Focus stayed with animation and freelance projects. I pitched Bru & Boegie many times as an animated show without success – I went to Johannesburg to discuss this a production company called ‘Anamazing’ without success, as well as pitched it to Nickelodeon. I created a pilot for Nickelodeon (Moosebox) which Nickelodeon financed, and that plus the subsequent development took a number of years. I then created a simple Bru & Boegie animated short, GIG, that was surprisingly funny – it was CartoonBrew’s ‘Pick of the Day’ which is no mean feat. I pitched Bru & Boegie for the Triggerfish and Disney Story Lab, and it got through to the winning 8 submissions.
Disney and Triggerfish held the rights for Bru & Boegie for a while, but because they weren’t keen on Bru & Boegie wearing underpants and there was issues with their lips on the horizon, I luckily got rights back and we made another show for Disney and Triggerfish.
I created 2 more Bru & Boegie shorts, ‘Feelin’ It’ and ‘Love’, and have many more shorts with voices recorded. For ‘Love’ I wrote a script and recorded voices to script, but for ‘Feelin’ It’ there was no script, just ad-lib recording, and I find this works well with Bru & Boegie. It’s more spontaneous, more natural, and then I edit the audio afterwards into a voice track to animate to.
Bru & Boegie – ‘Frank Chat’
Bru & Boegie – ‘Cheese’
Bru & Boegie – ‘MTV Ident’ (unofficial)
Bru & Boegie – ‘Forest Creature’
Bru & Boegie – ‘Frog’
Bru & Boegie – ‘Gig’
Bru & Boegie – ‘Feelin’ It’
Bru & Boegie – ‘Love’