A unique exhibition held at the Goethe-Institut auditorium recently, sought to trace the historic evolution of the local cartoons and comics' scene. Aptly titled Ink & Pixels -The Wild and Wondrous Tale of Kenya Comics, the showcase brought together established and upcoming cartoonists in numerous forums exploring various related themes.

It was observed that for instance, since inception in Kenya over a century ago, of the first colonial newspaper launched during 1902, comics and cartoon strips were already part of the typical media content in the West. The colonial newspaper featured syndicated comic strips sourced overseas, until early 1950s when the first indigenous cartoon strip Juha Kalulu - credited to veteran cartoonist, Edward G. Gitau was introduced as a regular feature in one of the local daily newspaper.

Juha Kalulu's popularity was instantaneous, addressing a myriad of social ills with a light touch. Its humorous content easily resonated with avid readers of the popular Swahili newspaper Taifa Leo.

The strip was a trendsetter, and later on became arguably one of longest running comic in East and Central Africa. Over 50 years later, Gitau's consistency gradually turned into a source of inspiration for a string of local artists, paving the way for vibrant cartoon strip sections which would traditionally be featured on the editorial page.

The Ink & Pixels - The Wild and Wondrous Tale of Kenyan Comics exhibition was hailed as a long-overdue tribute to the trailblazers, whilst also celebrating younger crop of cartoonist's sense of enthusiasm and creativity. On showcase were the creative muses of legendary cartoonists like Terry Hirst, Maddo and Gado alongside youthful sensations Shujaaz and Roba - interspersed with roundtable discussions.

The theme on Development of Comics in Kenya: Genres, Challenges & Opportunities was graced by panelists Maddo, Kham, Celeste and Eric Zoe Muthoga. Also addressed was the topic Cartoons, Freedom of Press and Media Ethics in a forum attended by political cartoonists Gado, Victor Ndula, professionals George Kegoro (ICJ) and Haron Mwangi (Media Council) as panelists. The spotlight further shone on Shujaaz: Comics as a Tool for Social Change, shedding light on the use of popular slang Sheng as the vehicle of communication among the youth.