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Are Naija/African Comics Ready For The Cinemas? Ni...

Are Naija/African Comics Ready For The Cinemas? Niyi Akinmolayan & Ayo Elegba Have Different Opinions

Cover Image credit: Vortex comics ‘Spirit Wars’

With Wakanda wind still very strong and comic fans fully expectant of Marvel’s Infinity War dropping April 27, 2018, it felt like a good time to ask a very pertinent question: Should Nigerian/African comic book creators and studios start thinking SERIOUSLY about converting their material to the big screen? Especially with the huge figures in dollars these comic book movies are pulling in? Doesn’t it make sense for Nollywood movie producers to cash in on the global trend while it lasts?

But I know what you’re thinking: Nigeria/Africa HAS comic books and studios? *insert eye roll emoji here* Yeah we do and it’s a thriving subculture. Check here and here to get up to speed.

What better time and place to ask the question than at the ongoing Social Media Week Lagos panel discussion organized by the two biggest names in Nigerian comics: Comic Republic and Vortex Comics.

After the very engaging panel discussions, we had a few minutes to chat with two personalities at the forefront of both Nigerian comic and movie industries.

Ayo Elegba is a comic writer, creator and founder of the biggest comic convention in West Africa, The Lagos Comicon. Niyi Akinmolayan is a movie director responsible for the widely popular The Wedding Party 2 and CEO of Anthill Studios and Anthill Animation, a leading animation outfit in Nigeria.

Both men share a passion for their respective industries but had very differing views on the subject. One is very optimistic while the other is quite cautious. So, are Nigerian comic creators ready for the Big Silver Screen? Check out their responses below:

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Niyi Akinmolayan:

“When you think about it, how many studios are pulling out Superhero movies? Only DC and Marvel. Black Panther was a 200-million-dollar movie, we don’t have that kind of movie, not now, not in the next 5-6 years. One of the things we can do is to make our comic characters so relevant, that we can license them to some of these big studios. I don’t think we will get any financing in Nigeria right now to power a couple of those but we can build great franchises with some of our characters and get a lot of foreign investments. And that’s a great start but they wouldn’t bring their money here and work with our people, because we don’t have the right structures to make those kind of films but they can make films about the stories that we tell and the characters that we create.”

 

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Ayodele Elegba

“I think Black Panther opened the door for the Black creators, already I’m working on a superhero film a comic that I’m adapting into movie. I have a comic book called Boxsa, we are working on the film currently, and I can say the acceptance has been massive, I have gotten calls from Ghana, Cameroun and even from the UK, telling me ‘’we love what you are doing and want to be part of it’’. So I think that there is no risk, everybody wants to see this and I think it’s time we all get in there and start crossing over from comics into movies.”

 

Jide Martin of Comic Republic had this to add:

 

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Jide Martin

I’m not sure we have the right parties in place in Nigeria to make Superhero movies, but if they are able to get the right people, people who are professionals, people who know what they are doing, people who are good at this. And again I keep telling people you don’t have to look at Nigeria alone, you can look outwards, yes it is a welcome development that comic creators are going to the movies, until then I think we should take our time.

With the success of the Black Panther movie with Comic and non-comic book fans alike, and such outlier stories such as the animated African film Liyana, do you think indigenous Africa comics are ready to take the big screens?

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