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Award-winning creator Roye Okupe is not any stranger to the world of comics or the necessity for illustration and variety within the medium. As the founding father of YouNeek Studios, the Nigerian creator has made it his mission to create comics from an Afrofuturistic perspective, and one in all his acclaimed creations, Iyanu, Child of Wonder, is at the moment being tailored right into a tv sequence for the premier top-tier streaming service HBO Max. Okupe was additionally not too long ago nominated for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, which was created to honor excellence and inclusion inside the medium. He not too long ago signed a ten-book cope with revered impartial writer Dark Horse Comics.

AnimeFillerLists had an unique dialog with Okupe, by which the creator spoke at size concerning the want for variety and illustration on this planet of comics. He additionally shared a couple of particulars concerning the upcoming HBO sequence based mostly on his work, in addition to the impact the latest revitalization of DC’s Milestone Comics has had on him and different historically marginalized creators.

Related: SDCC: Denys Cowan on the Future of Milestone Comics

AnimeFillerLists: What led to your founding of YouNeek Studios?

Roye Okupe: Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I used to be an enormous fan of superhero fantasy tales. But I all the time felt prefer it’d be much more particular if someone instructed these tales from an African perspective, going down in Africa. When I moved to the United States in 2002, there was this explosion of superhero movies that took the medium mainstream to a wider viewers, and I assumed the time was ripe to current the kind of tales I needed to do for a world viewers. That was how the concept for YouNeek Studios started.

I did not do something with the concept till 2014 after I determined that if nobody else was going to do it, possibly I ought to discover a strategy to do it myself. A 12 months later, I began YouNeek and launched my first Kickstarter for E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams. I have not appeared again since.

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The latest resurgence of the DC imprint Milestone Media and the following push of the Milestone Initiative has paved the way in which for inventive variety. How do you are feeling you may have personally contributed to and benefited from this motion?

I believe I’ve benefited from not simply the Milestone motion however everyone within the leisure trade who has gone earlier than me. Dwayne McDuffie is an ideal instance of this. There are so many nice issues he did, not simply in comics however in animation as effectively, and one of many largest highlights of my profession was being nominated for the range and inclusion award that was named after him. He and Milestone paved the way in which for lots of us, and I really feel like I’ve a duty to contribute to the narrative and assist the following era.

For me, this implies not solely producing glorious tales but in addition persevering with to be genuine in these tales and being as supportive as I can in the neighborhood. In service of this, I’ve a podcast known as The YouNeek Show by which I discuss issues like how one can begin a inventive enterprise and the way I received a cope with HBO Max. Giving again is essential to me, as I personally have been an enormous benefactor of what Milestone and others have achieved earlier than me. It’s my job to return the favor and assist the following era in any means I can.

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Iyanu: Child of Wonder is at the moment being tailored for HBO Max. What is that this sequence about, and why ought to our readers have an interest?

Iyanu: Child of Wonder is an action-adventure fantasy story that takes place in Yorubaland, the house of one of many important tribes in Nigeria. This can also be my tribe and part of my heritage, which makes this story very private for me. The story follows Iyanu as she goes on a journey to find the place she’s from and who her mother and father are. While on her journey she discovers that she has powers derived from the gods. These powers are the one hope her individuals have in opposition to a drive known as the Corrupt, which has turned all of the animals in opposition to humanity.

While the story of Iyanu has loads of superior motion and fantastical components that all of us like to see in all these tales, it is also grounded in the concept that there may be greatness in all of us. I believe that is one thing that each single particular person can relate to. I imagine that there’s a measure of innate means in every one in all us that needs to be shared with the world, however many people do not put it on the market due to concern, doubt, and a scarcity of self-confidence. We are basically afraid to take an opportunity. Iyanu is a illustration of that. She’s a Child of Wonder, however she simply desires to be an everyday child. Soon she realizes that she has to simply accept being extraordinary and {that a} regular life is not within the playing cards for her. She has to tackle the mantle and duty of utilizing what’s inside her for the good thing about the individuals round her.

Plenty of instances, we make the error of believing that our abilities and items are for us. I’m a powerful believer that they’re as a substitute meant to encourage these round us. This is what Iyanu represents — not simply as a graphic novel, however as a person character on this large world round her. She is somebody individuals can establish with and root for, and studying the books now will give a head begin on the story earlier than the sequence begins on HBO.

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Why do you suppose that at this specific second in historical past, audiences are so excited by variety and illustration?

I believe that individuals have seen the identical factor again and again and are able to see one thing totally different. Let’s take touring for example. People prefer to go to totally different locations as a result of they need to expertise totally different cultures, broaden their horizons, and see how different individuals do issues. Entertainment is not any totally different. People need to see how different cultures interpret superheroes, horror motion pictures, and animation. I believe we’re simply wired that means.

We’re not monotonous creatures who simply need to expertise the identical factor in the identical means. I believe we’re beginning to see the outcomes of that, and persons are excited to expertise one thing totally different in all these mediums. Whenever a present or comedian provides one thing totally different and is completed the proper means, it permits audiences to view a narrative genuine to a tradition, and that’s normally successful. So I believe individuals mainly are able to see one thing totally different, they usually’re excited to see extra.

E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Iyanu: Child of Wonder, and Malika: Warrior Queen are all written by Roye Okupe and can be found at youneekstudios.com.



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