African Storytelling Meets Comic Books With These New Superheroes

African superheroes are emerging, as comic book creators from a continent find to change a definition of diversity, bringing relatable characters and abounding storytelling traditions to a increasingly renouned industry.

Famed superheroes like Storm and Black Panther hail from a diaspora already, though direct for Afrocentric stories has been singular in a marketplace dominated by U.S. publishers DC and Marvel, together comprising of over half a attention in 2014, according to information gathered by Diamond Comic Distributors.

RELATED: Ta-Nehisi Coates Begins Run as Writer of ‘Black Panther’

Nigerians now are perfectionist for some-more representation, as a array of self-starting entrepreneurs are rising with their possess comics that have an African focus. Hameed Catel, a 25-year-old Nigerian comic book creator formed in a UK, is one of them.

“A lot of people consider that carrying black people in comics covers diversity,” pronounced Catel. “But that doesn’t indispensably meant that they pull on a enlightenment of opposite countries, like those within Africa.”

Champion of Dema


Catel’s 2014 striking novel Champion of Dema - accessible in both English and a form of damaged English called pidgin – takes place in a anticipation encampment somewhere in Africa, blending cultures from Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Wrapper-wearing women and tasty smoke smoke are striking via Catel’s story of a sharp-tongued Kade, a burglar who has a avocation of safeguarding his encampment bearing on him. Along with a normal dress and snacks, Kade’s transition from derelict to hero, highlights account techniques engrained in African storytelling traditions.

Leading an expat life, Catel believes, has given him practice permitting for Champion of Dema to be blending to a Western assembly – a peculiarity indispensable in many contemporary African literature in sequence to sell to US and UK publishers.

Characters like Superman, Batman and Spiderman have also given impulse to Roye Okupe, a Nigerian vital in Maryland, whose striking novel E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams is now being distributed by Diamond.

The Legend of Wale Williams


“I knew that in sequence to have any kind of success, we would need to make a categorical impression relatable,” pronounced Okupe. “Not only relatable to Africans or Nigerians though to anyone who loves a good story.”

Set in a unconventional Nigeria, the novel introduces Wale Williams, a male who finds a abnormal fit and a will to finish crime overrunning Lagos. Like Kade, he too, contingency arise to a plea of being a hero.

Since a recover final August, E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams has been shipped all over a world, illustrating a streets, sites and languages of Lagos to readers from Mexico to Asia, according to Okupe.

In Nigeria, a miss of edition infrastructure and a deficiency of a clever reading enlightenment have tended to make comics a novelty, though now digital record and torrent in inscription use is permitting for online brands to foster new African characters.

“We motionless to make an impact in a attention by study models of unfamiliar brands like DC, Image and Marvel and, not replicate, though adjust to a business sourroundings here,” pronounced Somto Ajuluchukwu, owner and artistic executive of Votex Comics, a association formed in Lagos with 4 categorical titles. Incepted in 2013, Vortex boasts a operation of heroes and villains, including Strike Guard, an undergraduate tyro that is resurrected from a passed in sequence to find punish on his murderers.




Outlets identical to Vortex have emerged on a stage that has been “existing subterraneous for years,” pronounced Ajuluchukwu. Yet a sourroundings – many like Nigeria’s art marketplace – stays mostly untapped. “Africa yearns for characters that they can overtly describe to and know both their struggles and humor.”

While characters like Black Panther have recently re-entered a spotlight – a new array about a superhero was expelled in Apr and Marvel is planning a underline film for 2018 – some prior portrayals of African characters have caused controversy. Tintin in a Congo, a renouned 1930 comic book from Belgium, decorated a Congolese people as monster like monkeys – drawings that have now been criminialized from children’s bookshelves.

Despite past depictions, stories for Africans by Africans are now on a arise with a participation of trade events such as Lagos Comic Con and Free Comic Book Day in Cape Town, South Africa. Although South Africa is some-more determined in terms of art prolongation – including a comic Super Strikas, review all over Africa – a continent’s largest economy is a one creation strides with uninformed characters.

Champion of Dema


“Nigeria seems a many passed focussed resolved on creation a African comic book attention a genuine thing,” pronounced Thabiso Mofokeng, a South African illustrator and co-founder of a African Comic Creators Community, a height directed during enlivening African comic book creators. “It’s a guys who do it out of their possess pockets regulating their possess steam.”

Even with creativity and ethnically different superheroes burgeoning, building a singular African character within a comic attention still has a prolonged proceed to go.

“Aesthetically speaking, it’s still really many holding cues from how a West do comics,” pronounced Mofokeng. “Nigeria is producing some flattering plain stuff, though to contend that an African comic book is as singular to Africa as Magna books are to Japan, nope.”

RELATED: Sixteen Must Reads by Black Authors for 2016

The Japanese answer to comics, Magna, has putrescent Western enlightenment with a singular art character and fantastical storylines. Catel is an zealous fan.

“People in a States adore Japanese enlightenment and wish to go to Japan since of Magna,” he said, explaining that Champion of Dema leans towards this Eastern approach. Just as Magna has done, Catel hopes that a growth of African comic books and their superheroes can widespread a Africa’s cultures around a world.

“The categorical reason we tell stories in a enlightenment is to tell ethics and give lessons. We move that to a table,” he said.




Follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » appearance » Widgets » and move a widget into Advertise Widget Zone