The #MTVShugaComic competition drew to a close last week but now the real work begins. Not only do we have to now compile the TWO MTV Shuga: Down South Comic Books which you will all be reading very soon; we need to actually begin by assembling the team of illustrators who will be putting it all together!

This year we'll be working on two engaging MTV Shuga Comic Books featuring all of your favourite characters from the recently concluded TV drama. From lessons on PrEP and HIV self-testing, to relatable stories on the challenges of living as an openly gay man/woman in South Africa, this year's comic is looking to take the storyline even further.

We have done our bit to #OpenUpTheIndustry by inviting Mzansi's most talented, undiscovered illustrators to show us their work and we've been blown away by the entries so far. The winning artists will get to work on one (or both) of the upcoming comic books under the mentorship of Sean Izaakse, South African creative and Marvel Comics illustrator!

We've had a lot of difficult decisions to make but the next decision might prove to be the most important one of all, as we carefully adjudicate each of the submissions in a bid to find our 8 winning artists. Luckily, we won't be alone!

We have recruited three of the most gifted creatives from SA and the UK and they will be lending their expertise and helping us find our final team of creative illustrators to work on our comics. Let's get to know our judges a little more and get an idea of what they are looking for in each entry.

Sean Izaakse - Head Judge and Mentor

About Sean:

Sean Izaakse has been working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist who has worked on comics such as Pathfinder (Dynamite Entertainment),  The Thunderbolts, Avengers, Deadpool, The Uncanny Avengers, The Champions, Avengers No Road Home for Marvel and is currently the artist on MARVEL'S Fantastic Four as well as  and co-creator, along with writer Vito Delsante, of the creator-owned series Stray (Action Lab Entertainment). In his free time he plays D&D with his friends, watches way too many movies and  fills his instagram with pictures of his dog

What Sean is looking for in the ideal illustrator: 

Well in a comicbook artist, I'm looking for someone who can convey a story in the best possible way to the readers. A good comicbook illustrator should be able to convey a story to the reader without words being necessary. They should be able to draw things from the mundane to the fantastic, create mood and feeling in readers. By choosing the right angles, shadows and lighting, being able to make characters recognizable from one frame to the next with various expressions. Those are all the things a comicbook artist must be able to do, and do it on deadline.

Pippa Tshabalala - Senior Judge

About Pippa:

Pippa Tshabalala is best known as the host of South Africa’s first locally produced TV show on video games – The Verge. She holds a BAFA and MAFA (Digital Animation) from Wits University and lectured 3D animation at Honours and Masters level at Wits Digital Arts between 2007 – 2009. During this time she began presenting an internationally syndicated video game show, PlayR and then later The Verge.

She has worked as a content producer, as a promo producer and as a magazine editor, managing a digital pop culture magazine called Spliced. She spoke at TEDxSoweto in 2013 on the subject of video games as a medium for social change, and was listed on the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in the same year. In 2016 she was listed on BrandSA’s 40 under 40. She has hosted and spoken at numerous tech events, including co-hosting BCX Disrupt with keynote speakers Will.I.Am and Malcolm Gladwell. Pippa is passionate about all things video games and animation and currently hosts and co-produces a web show called Glitched. She is currently the On Air Manager for Viacom International Media Networks Africa

What Pippa is looking for in the ideal illustrator: 

I’m looking for someone who can not only draw, but who captures the essence and emotion of the story and the characters in their own unique style. It’s so important for readers to identify with characters, particularly in a narrative such as this.

Richard Warburton - Senior Judge

About Richard:

Richard Warburton is Creative Director at MTV Staying Alive Foundation and is creative lead across all content and design work delivered by the Foundation. He has been in charge of MTV Shuga since it’s move to Nigeria in 2012 and has extensive experience working across the continent.

What Richard: is looking for in the ideal illustrator: 

One of the best things about my job is working with the vibrant inspiring creative communities across the continent. The ideal MTV Shuga Comic illustrator needs to show that they understand our brand but can work in their own creative perspective. I am looking for how they balance engaging imagery with storytelling.

And there you have it! The ball is firmly in the judges' court and at the beginning of next week we are expecting their verdicts at which point we will announce the winners of this year's #MTVShugaComic competition to the public.

In the meantime, let us know which of the entries below you think will stand a great chance of being chosen: