Mielies, hadeda’s, ironing boards, unlimited gin and tonic, no, this isn’t the Finglobal team’s suggested packing list for emigrating (now that would be interesting!) but rather the ingredients required for a lekker Madam and Eve cartoon! Created and illustrated by an Austrian and American artist and scriptwriter, who better to poke fun at our politics and diversity than those from across the pond? The fact is they do it with such aplomb and style; we’ve loved and laughed with them (mostly at ourselves) for nigh on thirty-one years, but hey, who’s counting? Please give us more!
What is Madam & Eve?
Launched in July 1992, Madam and Eve first appeared as a black and white cartoon in the Weekly Mail, now known as the Mail and Guardian. Since then, this iconic cartoon strip has firmly wedged itself in our culture, homes and hearts, so much so some might say it’s part of our heritage! In fact, most folks agree that Madam and Eve are so much a part of South African tradition it rubs elbows with the infamous braai, biltong, boerie rolls and potjiekos; what can we say? It’s a Saffa thing!
Who are the Madam Eve Cartoons South Africa Creators?
The Madam and Eve cartoon originally had three creators: Stephen Francis (his idea), Harry Dugmore and Rico Schacherl. Before launching Madam & Eve in 1992, the trio had previously worked on several projects, including the Laughing Stock magazine.
- Stephen Francis
Stephen is American but has lived in South Africa since 1988. Many of the original ideas, including the title of the Madam Eve cartoons South Africa enjoys, can be credited to Stephen.
- Rico Schacherl
Austrian-born illustrator and cartoonist Rico lives and works in Johannesburg. Aside from illustrating Madam and Eve’s characters, he has also worked on projects for big companies such as SABC Education, Old Mutual, Telkom and Pick ‘n Pay.
- Harry Dugmore
Born in South Africa, Harry Dugmore handled the business side of the trio’s partnership before leaving in 2001.
What is Madam & Eve About?
The Madam and Eve cartoon is a satirical tongue-in-cheek illustration of life and politics in South Africa since apartheid ended. Each cartoon follows the lives of two much-loved South Africans, Eve and Madam Gwen, living in the new South Africa. Life, seen through the lens of Madam and Eve’s characters, is enlightening and side-splittingly funny, teaching us that laughter truly is the cure, especially when we’re laughing at ourselves!
Since its first debut in the Mail and Guardian, the cartoon has made a daily appearance in over 13 publications across South Africa and can be found in top South African newspapers such as the Pretoria News, Mail & Guardian, Herald, Daily Dispatch, EC Today, The Star, just to name a few. It also has a huge expat online following, proving that no matter where you live on the globe, every Saffa needs their daily dose of Madam & Eve!
Madam and Eve’s Characters
If you’ve never seen a Madam and Eve cartoon, a little explanation may be required. Firstly, the comic is set in post-apartheid times up to the current day. Each character is styled on stereotypical South Africans struggling to fit into the concept of a new Rainbow Nation, which, needless to say, has some seriously funny results!
Enter centre stage, the primary Madam and Eve’s characters in no particular order of importance:
- Madam (Gwen Anderson) is a typical white South African woman.
- Eve Sisulu (maid), aka self-made entrepreneur and professional ironing board surfer.
- Edith Anderson, the British mother of Gwen Anderson, gin addict and mielie lady stalker.
- Thandi Sisulu (Eve’s 8-year-old cousin) lives next door and regularly has verbal battles with Edith Anderson.
- The Mielie Lady (Arch enemy of Edith Anderson) sells mielies for an income and frequently disturbs Edith Anderson’s naps.
With such an eclectic mix of characters, you don’t have to do much imagining to see why this cartoon is so popular!
Madam & Eve Hit the Big Screen
As with most good reads, the Madam and Eve Cartoon made it to the silver screen in 2000, thanks to Roberta Durrant (Penguin Films CEO), who adapted the cartoon into a live sitcom for e-tv! Four seasons and fifty-four episodes later, the sitcom ran from 2000 to 2006. Nearly twenty-three years later, this popular sitcom can still be streamed via online websites like evod.
- Some characters (Gwen Anderson) are broadly based on Stephen Francis’s family members!
- The Madam & Eve cartoon is so popular it has its own fan pages, which can be found on Facebook and Instagram.
- Edith Anderson was originally introduced to the cartoon as Abigail, but many fans know her as ‘Gogo’.
- Produced by Penguin Films, the Madam and Eve show boasts 4 seasons with a whopping 54 episodes.
- It’s thought the daily readership of the Madam and Eve cartoon is more than 4 million people.
Madam & Eve bore witness to the dawn of a new age in South Africa, just like Adam and Eve. As a result, they have helped Saffas successfully traverse the ups and downs that great change brings, all while laughing at themselves!
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