South African artist, Willem Samuel has delivered his full version of a six-part graphic novel, Mengelmoes (mish-mash), and we’ve reviewed part 5.
Mengelmoes Part 5: The Offering sees Willem finally join the “real-world”, but at the same time escaping deeper into his fantasy world. Porn, religion and self-exploration are all themes in this next instalment in the life of Willem Samuel.
Now, at the age of 24, our main character finds himself living at home with his parents again after studying at the University of Stellenbosch. We’re introduced to a completely different Willem who is deeply Christian at the moment and involved at the church. He is constantly trying to avoid sin and the sweet side of Willem comes out who loves to nurture, just like he had done for the street dog in Mengelmoes part 3.
But, as the theme is “mengelmoes”, we’re shown the different sides and struggles of a young man who is still trying to figure everything out. The strong feelings of guilt shines strong throughout Mengelmoes part 5 as Willem tries to push sex and other “sinful” thoughts from his mind. Sin surrounds him at times and he struggles to get away from thoughts that would lead him off his good and Christian path. He has abandoned most of his previous vices, but is haunted by temptation constantly.
Willem has definitely evolved from his more self-reflective university days where his band was everything and an art exhibit deadline felt like the worst thing that could ever happen to him. He is also more aware of his surroundings, current affairs and you get the sense that he has a deeper appreciation for life. He now openly admits to craving the “normal” things in life like a spouse, children, a dog, the whole white-picket fence dream. But at the same time he also craves fame and recognition for his work.
Willem is now working as an illustrator at a comic and animation company. He experiences segregation in the office, but at the same time he feels like the odd one out not really fitting in with any of the race demarcations. He in an open and honest way grapples with white privilege issues and feels ashamed to be classed into the same category. He realises that he is extremely lucky and lives a seemingly better life than the majority of people around him. We’re again presented with someone who is weighed-down by extreme guilt and feels ashamed for not making more of a difference.
This is the first book in the six-part Mengelmoes series which features a weed-free Willem, who gives us his status quo:
I’ve been weed free for more than a year. Leaving the band and going to church helped, but I’m still confused about what I should do about her. Is there anything I can do?
Willem the artist shines as ever and his style is impeccable, especially in a comic inside the comic that he creates for his love interest. The amount of detail created makes you immerse intensely into the story and the detail makes it feel like you’re truly seeing the world through Willem’s (very observant) eyes. We’re given stunning sights of Cape Town, with the landscape taking on insane amount of detail which Willem was able to achieve.
Mengelmoes part 5 was less dark than the previous four instalments, with Willem attempting a purer life. We witness a maturer person and more developed artist, who at the same time is struggling with some of the same insecurities and questions he has always had issues with.
Next we join Willem Samuel for the last time in Mengelmoes Part 6: Porn Again.
Willem Samuel is an artist who has dedicated much of his work to visual commentary. He has published prolifically in the comic scene, locally and abroad. His work has featured in Laugh it Off Annual, Bitterkomix, Die Swart Kat, Rolling Stone magazine, among others, and Supa Strikas – where he was also Art Director. He is currently based in the UK where his serialised graphic novel, Mengelmoes, is being published and working as a freelance artist in his spare time.