Why Roye Okupe Created A Comic Universe Filled With African Heroes
From the Ugandan kids who performed better in school after watching Queen of Katwe to the little girls giving science a shot thanks to Hidden Figures, the world seems to finally be grasping just how vital proper representation is.
Granted, some people figured that out a while ago. A great example is the talented Roye Okupe, who in 2008, decided to create a Nigerian superhero to make up for the gross lack of diversity within the genre.
Roye's first creation was Wale Williams, a young Nigerian who, driven by the mysterious disappearance of his father, suits up in high-tech armour to become the superhero, E.X.O. (Endogenic Xoskeletal Ordnance).
While Roye initially wanted to introduce the world to Wale Williams via an animated film – which he made an eight-minute trailer for – he faced a lot of rejection, with one movie producer even suggesting he changed the character's race.
Roye eventually decided to start off with comics instead. Which is what motivated him to start Youneek Studios – a hub driven to tell diverse stories through comics, graphic novels and other forms of popular media.
The first E.X.O. comic debuted in August 2015 under the umbrella of the Youneek Universe. Since then his company has released Malika: The Warrior Queen, a comic set in the 15th century, which follows a badass queen; and Windmaker: The History of Atala, a prequel to the Malika comic.
Speaking with Okay Africa about what he hopes to achieve with his comics, Roye said:
"My mission is to put Africa on the map when it comes to telling superhero stories, be it animated or through superhero comics and graphic novels.
We have so many people with a wealth of creative and appealing stories on the continent, but they never really get the proper commercial exposure."
By Nescafé, published on 30/10/2017