My notion about Nigerian comics changed upon my contact with the venue of the 8th edition of the Lagos Comic Convention held between the 19th of September to the 21st at the Mike Adenuga Centre, Alliance Francaise, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, where over twenty (20) animation companies exhibited their works; full book length made in Nigeria comics and 2D animations, to the delight of a large turnout of consumers. Before then, I had assumed, and forgivably too, that there are no such things as Nigerian comics aside the now extinct Wale Adenuga’s Ikebe Super and Super Story series that held sway in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Then the Supa Strikas of early 2000s which also saw to the rise of newspaper comics and cartoons that are now hardly read as a result of the influence of social media and the momentous Indomitables comics that were contained in the packs of Indomie Noodles. The Nigerian Comic Industry, from what I witnessed, is on a gradual, historical growth and the last decade has seen to the production of high quality comic books by Nigerian creators no less motivated by events in the Nigerian society as well as historical figures and heroes from myths, legends and folkloric characters from the numerous cultural backgrounds across Nigeria.
The convener, Raymond Anyasi who spoke on behalf of Spoof Animation, confirmed that the Lagos Comic Convention has been around since 2012, noting that this year is themed “The Fearless Lagos Comic Convention because of our consistency since 2012 and our yearly improvements that has attracted the Fearless Energy Drink Company as our major sponsor for this year.” When asked about the motivation behind the ComicCon and what they aim to achieve, Raymond asserted that:
The aim is to harness the numerous talents in this nation into one productive industry that aside bringing fulfillment to the creative individual, would also be a source of income generation for the individual, investors and the nation at large and this cannot happen if we don’t create a platform, a sort of market for creative contents where skills are developed, networks are built and talents are encouraged and harnessed to start yielding income, that’s the reason for this convention and as you can see, we seem to have achieved that, like, we have already created the industry, hence this particular ComicCon and subsequent ones would be aimed at reinforcing that which we have created.
The ComicCon featured panel discussions on many areas including Comic Industry Discussions where ‘Business Support for African Comic Studios’ were dissected, alongside ‘Comics and the African Culture,’ and ‘Building a Sustainable Comic Brand,’ by key players and lead discussants like Sunkanmi Akinboboye (Creative Director, Linebug Studios), Tolu Olowofoyeku (Co-Founder/CTO, Kugali Studios), Peter Ike Amadi (CEO, Shadowblack Comics), Martin Okonkwo (Founder, Epoch Studios), Somto Ajuluchukwu (CEO, Vortex Corp), Ayodele Elegba (CEO, Spoof Comics), etc; Animation Industry Discussions where ‘Developing Animation Contents that Sells,’ ‘Distribution for African Animation,’ etc were discussed by industry heavyweights like Diana Rosu, Ijeoma Onah, Christophe Guignment, Jimoh Samsideen etc; Film Industry Discussions were led by the superstars Uti Nwachukwu, Uche Jombo and Ehiz Ojesogbolo, focusing mostly on ‘Alternate Income for Nollywood Actors.’ On the Book Industry Discussions, Adeyemi Adebiyi (Lagos Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors), Okechukwu Ofili (Founder, Okadabooks), Benjamin Okoh (Radio Presenter, Classic FM) and Francesca Okwulehi (Self-Published Author) deliberated on ‘Digital Book Platforms: Their Effect on our Reading Culture,’ while ‘Distributing Print Books in Africa’ was x-rayed by Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi (MD, Parresia Publishers), Amarachukwu (CEO, Purpleshelves Publishing) and Tobi Eyinade (Co-Founder, Roving Heights). The essence of these deliberations is to fashion out collaborations and possible interfaces between the Comic industry and the other featuring industries that seem to have been generally accepted by the masses. The expected outcomes would see comic creators working closely with book publishers to adapt some novels into comics, and comics/books into 2D animations, an example of which is Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Passport of Mallam Ilia (1960), that has been animated by Magic Carpet Studios.
Some of the notable key players in the comic industry that exhibited their works include Spoof Animations, headed by Ayodele Elegba, the convener of the Lagos ComicCon, Vantage, Boxsa, Jinx and Teen Tech are some of the comics created and exhibited by them, under the aegis of Spoof Comics; Epoch Comics led by Martin Okonkwo are producers of supernatural comics such as Aegis, Seraph, Prophesy, as well as the female superhero series, Barikisu, based on the legend of Queen Amina. Theirs is a blend of superhero, afro-futuristic sci-fi, traditional and supernatural comics; Youneek Studios, though operating from the US but owned by Nigeria’s Roye Okupe, Youneek Studios has raised the bar of Nigerian comics and graphic novels. Malika, one of their comics, was premiered in the convention as a major animation film. E.X.O., another work of theirs, has received critical acclaim and has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, BBC, The Huffington Post and more. Youneek studios have been recognized through numerous awards as a result of their outstanding promotion of African culture.
Also at the exhibition were Vortex, LineBug Comics, AwonDa Comics, Obaranda, Manic Rush Works, KRO Onimole, Awele Emili, Peda Comics, Revolutionary Comics, ComicWox, Alkebulania, Panaramic Comics, Shadowblack Comics, Kolanut Productions, Kugali Comics, St. Wosh, Ainavation, etc, with their fascinating comics, animations, games and artworks that prominently feature African heritage.
Here is a toast to the rise of comics in Nigeria. We look forward to a robust outing.
This article was written by Ifesinachi Nwadike