S.African animator fuses cartoon with reality in satellite debut

Lwazi Msipha, an animation artist works on his cartoon show
Lwazi Msipha, an animation artist works on his cartoon show "My Cartoon Friend" at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 6, 2021. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

September 8, 2021

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Self-taught South African 3D animator Lwazi Msipha wanted to create something for both grown-ups and kids, along the lines of The Simpsons, when he dreamed up the character that won him a coveted slot on satellite TV.

So he hit on an idea: what if his children’s’ cartoon character were to accidentally get stuck in the adult real world? That notion forms the premise of ‘My Cartoon Friend’, which debuted on Cartoon Network in South Africa last month – the first of his compatriots to get a full 13-episode series.

In the new show, Msipha plays himself as a young animator experimenting with some new software when he accidentally exports his creation into the real world.

He is then stuck with Themba, his feisty, sharp-tongued animation, who he must accommodate into his life – which proves challenging.

“(Our) relationship is like a ‘Tom and Jerry’ type of relationship. He’s a cartoon in the real world, and he doesn’t understand that in the real world the dynamics are different,” Msipha told Reuters TV at this studio.

“Adults can watch it, kids can watch it – it’s basically for the whole family,” he added.

He now hopes to help grow South Africa’s nascent animation industry, and attract talented upstarts like himself to join in.

(Reporting by Sisipho Skweyiya and Shafiek Tassiem; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alex Richardson)