Nigeria’s Comic Republic Puts Their Comics and Their Culture Front and Center
The Comic Republic of Nigeria are making waves in the comic community. They arrived right on time when there is a surge of writers and artist of color making it to the mainstream. Also, more comic readers are searching for diversified projects to invest time and money in. They gave us a lot of information based on their various comic projects. Guardian Prime, Eru, Avonome, Hero Gen, Ireti, and Aje, are the titles of comic stories they have created, and are now ready to show the world. If you want to learn more, or get updates, you can find them all over social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
How long have you been involved in comics? When did you decide that was your passion?
It all started in the mind of a 6 year old boy who would draw for weeks on anything he could find. Jide Martin could survive with just his pencils all day and sometimes went without food for days as he conceptualized art and drew on all his textbooks including the walls on his room! He finally went on to study Law from the University of Ife in Nigeria, and later took up an entrepreneurship course in Creative Enterprise Programme for start-ups. This was organized by the British Council in association with the Lagos Business School. His love for art and design saw him move on to build an image consultancy firm that has provided services to the American International School, First Bank of Nigeria ltd, Amstel Malta Box office, Video fashion and more.
The dream to begin a company focused on comics remained a close passion of his and one morning, during a conversation with a few friends over a nice video game at the residence of Wale Awelenje, a childhood friend who had just as much love for the comic and games but at the time had a regular 9 to 5 in a big Nigerian Bank, Comic Republic then known as Comic Central Media was born.
How did the featured artist decide on the particulars of the artwork? How did it help shape the each comic story’s vision?
All characters have different audiences and popularity is seasonal, here is a brief synopsis of them all.
Guardian Prime from the eyes of the creator Jide Martin
Guardian Prime is the sentinel of Earth, Nigeria’s own Superman. He was inspired by America’s own hero who promoted justice, truth and peace. I saw that Nigeria was filled with so much negativity. It became obvious that this generation and the ones to come, needed an icon, an example, to teach us justice, truth and peace. This hero would be designed to give us faith to see that our actions, and words could indeed make a difference. Guardian Prime aims to throw a positive light on Nigeria to a global audience.
Reading Guardian Prime prepares you for a inspiring quotes and subtle messages on ethics and values. But it is not just about ethics, Guardian Prime hits the core of humanity. It will take you on a journey into the mind of mankind with an experience that will make you question our relevance as a race on Earth and the universe as a whole.
Guardian Prime is the alter ego of Tunde Jaiye. He is the fifth element, one of the five essential elements on Earth (earth, air, water, fire and man). He is the perfect man. He can do everything a normal man can do only magnified to almost God like levels.
This is our flagship character and a favourite among the fans. They have shared so much fan art with us. The title was named Nigeria’s number 1 comic character of the year on Emperors groove in 2013 and the title to rule them all in 2015. We are humbled by the love from our fans. Guardian Prime is nothing without them.
Guardian Prime’s power is faith; his ability to do all things if he only believes he can. Simply put, he is as strong as he thinks he his. The subtle message here is when you believe in yourself, you can be and do anything. This is the take away we want everyone to have when they read this one. When you believe, you can achieve!
Eru from the eyes of the creator- Tobe
The story / concept behind Eru is a long one; the characters prototype design was conceived long ago with my first team. I decided to throw in the same concept with a twist here and there the name however, was a problem. I had to juggle my mind for it, I was looking for an alternate name for fear as I already had the concept in mind so I asked the team what the Yoruba word for fear was and wham we have Eru.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Hmmm… fear, well my fears. Each of the characters I make is an extension of myself that focus on my slight imperfections. I have always been fascinated by the concept of the anti-hero or the villain-hero. The bad guy who is good ,the angel who kills, the dark shadow that stands between you and certain death. So many of my characters I create a flaw, a sin if you will, or a handicap.
The concept for Eru was fear, here is this maniacal evil thing willing to save you from your worst nightmare. It is ironic because he is your worst nightmare. You could say it’s the irony of it that spurred me to create Eru but here’s the other thing right…
I’m sitting at the desk one night trying to think of the next African indigenous title for Comic Republic, and I can swear there’s some one behind me it’s an odd and old feeling and I can feel the shadowy presence formless and it says” there’s truly nothing to fear but fear itself”, I don’t know what it is I chucked it up to creative whispers…but what if?
How long ago was this concept thought up?
About four years ago from now. If I’m speaking on the design the idea, then that was two years ago. One morning at the Comic Republic first base with coffee on the table if I remember, there always was coffee…
Stanley OBENDE is the creator of the Title character. Mr. Xavier IGHORODJE writes and creates the world necessary for the character to thrive. MHB (Mud House Black) is the production company for the Title
What was the inspiration behind it?
Inspired by 90s dark themed fantasy comic titles like Mike Mignolia’s HellBoy and the cult classic Todd McFarlane’s Spawn – Stanley OBENDE sought to create a more African themed piece that represented our own myths and beliefs in a way that wasn’t mainstream hence her choice of gender – and then voila Avonome was born. Well, Avonome started as a character Stanley called SHI as far back as 2006/2007.
That same year, after SHI was’ fragged’ by a lot of artists in the industry, Avonome rose from the ashes of SHI’S funeral pyre to even grace a poster in the vintage Dark Edge comic.
How long ago was this concept thought up?
Avonome was released in January 15th, 2015
Hero Gen from the eyes of Tobe
Hero Generation was created back in 2011/2010. I remember we sat at the parlour of my place (Ezeogu residence ) and we just threw ideas out. The mainstay was to base the ideas off of ourselves Balox was Powerboy, Ozo was max speed, and I was supposed to be the dark avenger. I wanted to have a cape but they (Balox and Ozo ) disagreed after several yabs later I became “nu-tech” the geek of the squad(which isn’t so bad). So at the end of the day, we have Power boy, Max speed and Nutech; a match made in heaven. The inspiration behind Hero Generation is to recount our secondary school days
We wanted to take that feeling and make a comic about it. We have max speed the rich kid with severe anger issues, Power boy military, and solid as a rock, Nutech the geek who when he becomes Nutech is given a sort of release from the confines of his normal nerdy self. The story is a bit deeper than kids with powers running amok, and as we go along I think people will catch on to the reality of these characters.
Right now our main antagonist for Hero Generation is the H.I.V.E.S. They’re a group of terrorist using stolen super suits from NACSS (Jade waziri). In the last issue #spoiler they’re about to detonate a bomb “again” , the difference is the content of this bomb is linked to a folktale title and a certain sentinel of justice. Needless to say if it goes off you’d be better off with the warmaster from gp5-6 nuking the planet …nuff said
Ireti From the eyes of the creator- Balox
I had always wanted a female comic book character. The urge to create the character was later inspired by Stanley Obende’s Avonome. I then finally created Ireti in in 2012. Stanley was the artist who designed her first look, and I had her origin story covered. Ireti was first seen in Eru #2 in 2014. By then, she had gotten a new costume created by my buddy Tobe Ezeogu and a new origin story put together by Tobe, his brother Ozo and I. The comic is gonna become a series which will be released in episodes per week this year. Look out for it in the first quarter of 2016!
Aje From the eyes of the creator- Martin and Wale
The idea for Aje came on one sunny day as I walked the streets of Lagos. I saw a lady selling Akara ( a known Nigerian food made from grinded beans). I thought what if this lady had some secret spell and was bewitching everyone with it while she sells her goods? The idea was born! Aje was then redefined (after bouncing it off Wale) to be a young lady with dual nationalities in a more urban setting but with similar powers. The twist in the story is that she can only cast her spell in Yoruba. I love it because this way, we can promote one of our country’s languages. The first title of Aje was released in May, 2015.
What were some of the difficulties, or, challenges you experienced while creating these comic?
Breaking the comic reading habit in Nigeria which before we started was almost non existent. Occassionally, we experience power issues.
Where do you hope to see the success of Comic Republic a year from now?
We want to become a house hold name and influence a huge number of people with the stories from our comics
Can you provide any advice for those looking to write for independent comic book companies or self publishing?
Be consistent, never give up.
What can fans expect from you in the future?
Animations, motion picture deals, consistency, better quality comics and new titles.
Thanks to all of the writers and artist for participating in this interview. Special thanks to Eduvie Oyaide, head of marketing and corporate communications for setting this up and making it happen!