My animation character looks like me and features my culture

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This was before 2018’s Black Panther. This is, I believe, around 2013. There weren’t a lot of people jumping on board to be part of projects that featured a Nigerian superhero or took place in Nigeria. I told him, “That defeats the purpose. The only reason why I’m so passionate about what I’m doing is that he’s a character that looks like me and it features my culture. If I were to change that then I would be like everyone else.”

Roye Okupe.

I think not just an American audience, but a global audience has been ready for this for a while. When I decided to turn the animated short film into [a] trailer for the graphic novel. I put that on Kickstarter in 2014 and got funded in three days. Within six months that book, E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams … was featured on CNN, the BBC, ForbesThe Washington Post, The New York Times. I looked at the Kickstarter’s backers, and I had people from Mexico, people from parts of Asia and people from Europe who had ordered these books.

If I had through some miracle been able to put together a lot of money and created an animated film who’s to say that the animated film wouldn’t have been successful in 2014?

If I have to guess, I just think people, in general, we’re ready for that. I think for me, it’s a medium that I could afford to do on my own, and tell my story in my way. That’s why I went the comic-book route.

If I were to say [which is most] financially successful, I would say Malika: Warrior Queen. That’s a historical fantasy story that takes place in pre-colonial West Africa. In terms of reach, it’s Iyanu: Child of Wonder.  Iyanu is the one that producers are looking at to adapt.

Dark Horse is the perfect home for this. I have to give Dark Horse credit. A lot happened after the unfortunate incident with George Floyd — where a lot of people started to support Black businesses, and rightfully so. But Dark Horse approached me in 2019 … when it wasn’t like, “Okay … let’s see what Black businesses we can support.” They really saw this as something that [they could] put [all their] resources behind and … take to the next level.

African mythology and culture is actually the icing on the cake. I create stories for a global audience. [Growing] up in Nigeria, I was able to see myself in Spider-Man. … I want [people] in different parts of Asia, or South America, or the U.S., or Europe to be able to see this character and see themselves … And then also, as a secondary effect … be able to see what they don’t necessarily see in mainstream media.

Malika Vol. 1

WindMaker Vol. 1 came out April 20. It’s a story about a guy that gets the spirit of a legendary protector reincarnated into himself. The twist is that our hero is actually the chief [of] security for a dictator of [his] country, so he has to decide what side he wants to play on. One of the things I try to talk about in the story is the price of blind loyalty. We all have to navigate that in our lives at some point in time.

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