I’m starting a series here on theblerdgurl called “Africa Rising” and through it I am going to highlight several artists and comic book companies that are based in Africa, artists that are telling stories about Africa or feature African characters. To kick things off, I‘ve highlighted 7 comic book companies that are either based in Africa or headed by 1st gen African founders. Each of these companies’ work I will go into more detail about throughout the month.
YouNeek Studios – E.X.O. the Legend of Wale Williams
I knew when I first laid eyes on the first E.X.O. kickstarter campaign, that it was destined to be a success. And judging from the reviews on Mashable, CNN and Forbes, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. Founder and creator Roye Okupe and his team have created a wonderful world for Wale Williams and the other characters to grow and thrive in. On his first outing Okupe didn’t just drop a 22 page floppy either, he delivered a full 136 page high-quality TPB that covered the first 6 chapters of the story. I absolutely LOVE Sunkanmi Akinboye and Godwin Akpan’s artwork and as the kickstarter for Book 2 just wrapped I look forward to seeing more in the way of animation and maybe even a game from this universe.
Comic Republic – Avonnome, Aje, Gurdian Prime, Ireti (and more)
When I first heard about Comic Republic I was surprised to find out that they were offering free downloads of all of their titles. (They still do actually). I was puzzled as to how a comic book company could sustain itself on free content. However, CR’s creative team feels so strongly that their work will resonate with readers, especially African-Americans who are eager to share African stories with their children, that they wanted to give the first issues of the comics away for free to increase awareness and to prove to investors that there is a market for the African superhero internationally. Their most popular comic is Guardian Prime, a Nigerian superhero who feels like a cross between Superman and Blue Marvel. My suggestion is to get over to the Comic Republic website as soon as possible and read everything before they start charging you for it!
Vortex – Strike Guard, Mumu Juju, June XII
Mohammed Agbadi’s artwork and I look forward to seeing more.
Awonda Comics – Misfit
Collyde Prime created Misfit to represent “the little guy”. His main character Shanko, who uses his small stature to his advantage to overtake his opponents, but his conscience takes form one day to keep him from going too far. I hope to see more work from Collyde Prime and Awonda Comics!
Ghana and Kenya
Leti Arts -True Ananse; Africa’s Legends
Game developer Eyram Tawia and Commercial software dev Wesley Kirinya, came together to create apps, mobile games and digital comics for Africa and beyond. Not only did they create their own original comics, True Ananse and Africa’s Legends they also developed the apps and mobiel games that they are displayed on. Currently you can view their comics on Android, Windows Phone, Nokia and JAVA. Kudos to them for creating original content and the tech that it resides on!
LoyisoMkizeArt – Kwezi
I ‘ve actually been a huge fan of Kwesi designer, artist and creator Loyiso Mkize’s artwork for quite some time. I was thrilled when I heard that he had a comic out and it was the first I’d ever heard coming out of South Africa. Kwesi means “star” in Xhosa and Zulu and is the story of a teenager blessed with superhuman powers whose destiny has a bigger purpose for him. I’m sure that we’ll be hearing more from this African star in the future.
Bayou – Aya
Aya writer and creator Marguerite Abouet is one of the most successful writers in comics international writers in comics today. Her critically acclaimed graphic novel series Aya of Yop City are not superhero stories, but rather, they are reality tales of daily life in her birthplace of Côte d’Ivoire. Drawn by her husband Clément Oubrerie, Aya was created out of Marjorie’s desire to show Africans in a light other than famine and war so often portrayed on television. Not only has Aya’s “slice of life” storyline won several awards, but it has also been adapted into a film. CBR even named her one of the Top Black 25 Comic Book Writers this year.