W.W. Norton plans to publish a graphic biography of former South African president Nelson Mandela. The book, Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book, will be published in July 2009 in time for Mandela’s 91st Birthday. The comics work is suitable for all ages and was created by the Nelson Mandela Foundation with personal involvement by Mandela and illustrations by a several young South African artists working under Umlando Wezithombe, a South African comics company.

The book is completed and was acquired by Norton executive editor Robert Weil in an agreement with Jonathan Ball Publishers, which published the book in South Africa. Norton also published Mandela’s critically acclaimed 2002 work, Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folk Tales, produced in cooperation with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation.

Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book, tells the story of the life of Mandela, right up to his years as president of South Africa and the years since he left office. The book makes use of both previously unused archival material and interviews with individuals who appear in the book. In a statement released by Norton, Mandela was witty about his comic book biography: “You know that you are really famous the day that you discover that you have become a comic character!”