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Interview + Photos: Artist Sunkanmi Akinboye’...

Interview + Photos: Artist Sunkanmi Akinboye’s Comic About Nigerian Armed Forces ‘Front Line’ Looks Hard Core

Sukanmi Akinboye is a graduate of Graphic Design from the University of Benin, a skilled illustrator and a creative writer.

Inspired by his interest in the military and his years of experience in graphic designs and illustrations, Sukanmi is set to produce a graphic novel, titled, ‘Front Line’. A novel that will “focus both on the Nigerian soldiers fighting the battle against Boko Haram on the frontlines in the northeast and how their families are affected indirectly, as they also struggle to cope with the sacrifice the men make as soldiers on an emotional battlefield.”

FW contacted Sukanmi about his upcoming project and he shared with us his motive behind the story and what he aims to achieve with it, amongst other pressing issues.

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1. On the title of the graphic novel

Chosen title is FRONTLINE. I chose it because my focus would be both on the soldiers fighting the battle against Boko Haram on the frontlines in the northeast & their families affected indirectly as they also struggle to cope with the sacrifice the men make as soldiers on an emotional battlefield.

 

2. Can you tell us specifically what led to the creation of this graphic novel?

In large part, I’ve always had an interest in the military even as far back as my early childhood (too many Chuck Norris movies probably) but recently, I have family up north in the field and it makes me realize how close to home the war is for us and how little I or even most Nigerians knew about the soldiers on the battlefield.

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3. What impact do you expect this graphic novel to have on readers?

My hope is that people would take a more active interest in the men fighting the war rather than glancing at news headlines occasionally. I expect the graphic novel to show the world, the bravery, patriotism and professionalism of Nigerian soldiers despite their limitations in prosecuting this war.

 

4. How long have you been working on this? And #NoPressure, when should we expect it to be finished?

I’ve had the idea bouncing around in my head for a while but somehow didn’t pay it much attention till recently. Give or take, I’ve been actively working on it for 5 months now. Even though it’s completely fiction, I want to make it believable after all, I’m not drawing about some American action movie.

 I can’t give a definite date as to when it will be published but I’m looking at next year definitely.

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5. There’s more than enough inspiration in Nigeria to create novels of this title. Why do you think most Nigerian comic studios are pre-occupied with superhero stories?

The way I see it, it’s hard to pick an issue that would be universally accepted because of the various tribal differences that exist in this country. There’s so much finger-pointing going on one might end up selling to only a select demographic. This book, on the other hand, affects us all as Nigerians first and I don’t think there’s any Nigerian who does not support the military’s efforts regardless of whatever they feel about any other issue.

 Superhero stories are pure entertainment and allow for a lot of freedom & creative license in the telling. Also, they are a means to gain an industry foothold in the international community where superhero stories are currently trending and will do so for a while yet.

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6. Is your graphic novel just ‘another action film’ story or will it deal with the real issues and effects of the counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria?

I’m not doing a book that focuses on the politics of the situation e.g. the army echelon embezzlement or politicians hamstringing the army’s efforts. I want to do a book that simply focuses on the men on the ground, their motivations, their sacrifices both good and bad (so that will have a lot of action & entertainment) but issues such as kidnapped girls, young boys press-ganged into Boko haram will pop up. I don’t want to give away details of the story just yet.

7. Should we expect to see more stories of this kind in the near future?

The possibility exists but only time will tell

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