Shakes, Cool Joe, El Matador do you remember them? As kids who grew up in early 2000, we couldn’t wait for Sundays because this was when we could get copies of our favorite comic- Supa Strikas inside the local newspaper. I remember pestering my dad every Sunday to by the Newspaper because I was hooked on this comic! So how did one of the most read Sports Comic start in Africa and eventually reach the world?
Supa Strikas was founded Andrew Smith,Oliver Power, Lee Hartman and Alex Kramer of Strika Entertainment in Cape Town South Africa a humble beginning that constituted of about 40 people. It was first published in 2000 and by 2002 publications reached other countries in Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Nigeria and Botswana. The comic now prints 1.4 Million copies per month in 16 countries in Africa! In 2009 the comic was adopted into a animated series which is broadcasted globally in 27 languages!
Supa Strikas became a real success because of the content with stories that were unique and yet familiar about the most loved sport in Africa and the world. The comic revolves around a player named Shakes and his football team the “Supa Strikas”. Readers follow Shakes and his team as they make their bid to win the Super League trophy (equivalent to UEFA Champions League). The stories were so relatable that some of us thought it was a story about our own National team- Harambee Stars mainly because the characters were adapted to represent local characters.
On the other hand lets talk about the business, marketing and branding strategies that Supa Strikas adopted. Firstly believe it or not the copies were FREE and their distribution was mainly through partnerships with local businesses and local newspapers. Secondly Supa Strikas took advantage of sponsorship just like what happens in real life football ie branded jerseys. At one point the players in the comics adorned Caltex and KFC branded jerseys. Thirdly the stories were so relatable about real life football challenges with life lessons intertwined in humor, hard work,team work, fair play and respect which are core in the world of all sports.
Where are they now?
In 2019 Moonbug, a global entertainment company based in London and Los Angeles that develops and distributes fun and safe entertainment for kids, announced that it has acquired Supa Strikas. The comic has now taken a different direction into the digital space as an animated series, it can boast of success with broadcast partnerships with well know companies like Disney, Nickelodeon and Turner. In 2020 DisneyIndia acquired the franchise.
On a personal level this comic spear headed me to matters football and sports in general. The excitement of getting a new edition was like nothing else. Then sharing stories and swapping editions in school was the epitome of time well spent. Even though there are no more publications you can still follow your favorite characters on TV.
All in all this is a success story where an African Product managed to crack the Global market just because of its authenticity!!