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Salem Brownstone

The Unknown Salem Brownstone

by Niles Burns / 17.12.2009

The hottest graphic novel of 2009/2010 was written and illustrated by two South Africans (Ok one South African and one Venutian). John Dunning and Nikhil Singh.

Their graphic novel, Salem Brownstone was praised by Alan Moore, creator of the original, cult graphic novels for Watchmen and V for Vendetta, who said it was, “A wonderfully imaginative and stylish piece of work and a perfect example of the adventurous new directions that comic books should be taking in the future.” Alan Moore. One of the gods of comics said that (and he says very little). People as diverse as Harmony Korine and the late Anthony Minghella have all praised it. It’s got great reviews by everyone from specialty press like the Forbidden Planet to The Guardian and Financial Times, but does anyone in South Africa even know? Is any bookstore selling it? Any press? Any gallery carrying Nikhil Singh’s work?

Ja, what the fuck?!

This year South Africa got on the map for a big budget Sci-Fi with District 9 and now we have top billing in the rarified world of graphic novels. Next year thousands of foreigners will flock to the country and in between spending money, watching footie and blowing vuvuzelas they’ll ask about our amazing artists and nobody here will even know what they are talking about! Snap out of it people. Demand your local book store carry Salem Brownstone. It’s world class.

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  1. dylan says:

    Congratulations Nikhil, I’m excited for this.

    It’s disappointing that South African stores are loathe to stock anything more boundary pushing than Spud. Kate Kilalea has recently been shortlisted for the costa (nee Whitbread) award, and still no South African bookstore will stock her book.


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  2. on the verge of emigration says:

    And South Africans wonder why I moan about their collectively antiquated mindset.

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  3. Roger Young says:

    You, sir, are one of the collective. Moaning doesn’t help. Do something constructive.

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  4. Lisa says:

    so how do we get it into our bookstores?

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  5. Andy says:

    just go to the front desk and ask them to stock it. Tell them it’s a South African graphic novel and it deserves to be on their shelves. They can buy it on Amazon

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  6. Moose says:

    mahala keeps eating my comments! please fix it!

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  7. porgie says:

    One of the most beautiful books EVER! Words magnificent.

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  8. georgie says:

    What the hell is so good about Kate Kilalea? Her poetry is absolutely abysmal! It sucks, it blows, it bites! It’s so pretentious and so.. arbitrary.

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  9. Andy Mason says:

    Great to hear about the publication and success of Salem Brownstone. Is Nikhil going to be doing any local promotion events in Cape Town or elsewhere in SA? I really hope so. By the way, His graphic novel is not the only SA product to be internationally acclaimed but locally ignored. What about Joe Daly’s Scrublands (shortlisted for the Ignatz Award) and The Red Monkey, both published by Fantagraphics. What is it about SA comix that makes them locally invisible? What are we gonna do about it? By the way, the first two episodes of Salem Brownstone were published in SA, in Mamba Comix No.4 (2006). Contact point for SA comic art and cartooning: http://www.cciba.sun.ac.za. Check it out.

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  10. Jess Vogel says:

    I once sat at a festival with Nikhil. He drew on my face with a black marker, sort of tribal possibly mayan design. I stayed out in the sun that day. My face turned brown. And I was left with the tan-line of his design. I wore him for days

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  11. Doyle says:

    Re. Kate Kilalea…I rather fancy the idea of poetry that sucks, blows and bites me. Perhaps Georgie, you were a little arbitrary in your choice of words, or your Objectivist view of meaning.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Fuck Nikhil, John is the genius behind it…

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