Comic is an art and a culture in which we use to express images and ideas through texts, visual information and sequence of images. However let’s take a quick look at this images.
For years there has been a lack of diversity when it comes to comics. This lack of diversity equivalents to lack of representation, which is disheartening. A lot of children in our society enjoy bragging about their favourite super hero, they want to be identified with their favourite super hero. However for Black or African children, there are very little super heroes out there that they can identify with. To most people, this isn’t an issue however one must dig deeper to understand that the lack of representation sends out a message, a message that echoes superiority and inferiority hierarchy. The majority of modern day super heroes are white actors and actress, they are heroes because they save the human race from villains. It sends a dangerous message that Non white people need saving and cannot save themselves. Which is why we are pleased to present to you, Afrokanist magazine interview with the creator of E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams, Mr Roye Okupe.
Q– Who are you and what do you do?
A– My name is Roye Okupe I am a writer, producer and creative director at YouNeek Studios. From the first day I laid my eyes on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons in the 80’s, I’ve been hooked on superheroes. Since then I’ve watched, played and read every single superhero related title I could lay my hands on: movies, superhero comics, manga, anime, graphic novels, superhero animated movies & series, video games etc. Then in 2008, after noticing there wasn’t a lot of diversity within the genre, I decided to tell a story about a hero from Nigeria (Africa). For years I shopped my ideas to several people and organizations and no one was really interested at the time. But I was determined to get my stories out there so I decided to take matters into my own hands. So I started YouNeek Studios. My goal is to create a library of eclectic and intriguing characters. Simply put, I want to tell extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters.
Q – Why do you do, what you do?
A– I started working on E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams (The book & the animation). First of which was to finally step out and take a risk to make my dream come true. I have always had a dream to create a superhero from Nigeria where I was born and raised. The second reason was pride. I wanted to do something positive and inspiration for my country (Nigeria) and my continent Africa. When people see E.X.O. either animated on screen or read as a graphic novel, I want them to see a different side of Africa (our booming tech industry, amazing city architecture, unique culture, African humor, Afrofuturism etc. ) , a side that is not regularly shown in mainstream media.
Q – What role do the artist have in society?
A – Great question. I think artists are responsible for teaching us about the past, keeping us rooted in the present and giving us glimpses of the future.
Q – What do you most enjoy doing?
A – Spending time with friends, family and loved ones. Living and laughing with those that truly and genuinely care fore you is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. So in my spare time I try to spend as much time with family and friends. Aside from that it would be watching movies (superhero movies take the cake lol) and playing video games.
Q – What themes do you pursue?
A – Well in the E.X.O. graphic novel there are a couple of themes I try to highlight. One which is redemption. To me redemption is something we can all relate to. At some point in life we have fallen, made mistakes or simple been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe redemption is about what you do moving forward when these things happen. I try to drive this point home with the main character Wale Williams. I tried to make Wale as relatable as possible. I didn’t want to make him too different from you and me. We all have things we struggle with, pains from our past and worries for our future. Wale is a very troubled soul at the beginning of the book. Through out his journey he learns a lot of painful life lessons, as we all must do as we grow. Without giving too much away, The best way to explain his journey is that it is a story of redemption.
Q – What superpower would you have and why?
A – Good one. Super metabolism… That way I don’t have to go to the gym 3-4 times a week to stay in shape.
Q – What is your dream project?
A – Developing E.X.O. as a live action feature film.
Q – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A – I hope this doesn’t sound narcissistic but it’s one I gave myself a couple years ago. “In this life no one owes you anything, you have to go out there and make your dreams come true”
Purchase your personal copy at YouNeek Studios (My Official Website) Print Books – http://bit.ly/1HAwAKQ
YouNeek Studios (PDF Digital Download): http://bit.ly/1MS4bYZ
Amazon (Print) – http://amzn.to/1hsyY1n
Amazon Kindle (Digital) – http://amzn.to/1IwWWBk
Apple iBooks(Digital) – http://apple.co/1MeZw1k
Jumia.com – Coming Soon.
Read chapter 1 FREE: bit.ly/1FlmMd6
By Abiola Balikis Salawe Bankole