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Sean O’Toole Interviews the Creators of Jungle Jim and Looks at the History of African Pulp Fiction

Jungle Jim, a monthly magazine, which showcases the best in African pulp fiction, was launched by publisher-editor Jenna Cato Bass and graphic designer Hannes Bernard in May last year. In this article, Mail & Guardian‘s Sean O’Toole chats to the team about the project.

O’Toole discusses with Bass their opting for a printed A5 24-page publication rather than taking the more economical online route. The first edition’s 200 copies were all handmade using a silkscreen but the zine is now printed in Salt River on a risograph, a high-speed digital printing system.

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Jungle Jim not only features established African writers, but it also serves as platform for young writers like Samuel Kolawole and Iheoma Nwachukwu. This year, Constance Myburgh’s short story “Hunter Emmanuel”, which first appeared in Jungle Jim, was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

Bass’s project, however, is not the first of its kind and O’Toole writes about the prime of African pulp fiction during the oppressive apartheid regime and African independence struggles. Republican Press, best known for publishing the photo comics Tessa and Kid Colt as well as the Playboy knockoff Scope, is one of the examples he discusses:

The last hours of Muammar Gaddafi’s life were ingloriously spent hiding in a drainage ditch on the outskirts of his hometown of Sirte. What did the former Libyan leader do and think as he unsuspectingly awaited his executioners in that makeshift bunker? It is an ample ­scenario for fiction writers.

In the imagination of young Nigerian author Iheoma Nwachukwu, writing in issue 12 of Jungle Jim, an irreverent monthly showcase of new African pulp fiction, the brotherly leader had sex with a bodyguard, a woman named Hana — “a quick one before her shift ends”.

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