Interview with Roye Okupe, Creator of African themed Comics

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Roye Okupe is a Nigerian comic book creator who has successfully produced several titles of his own, including E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika: Warrior Princess, and WindMaker.

What was the inspiration behind The Legend of Wale Williams?

I started E.X.O. for 2 main reasons. First of which was to finally step out and take a risk to make my dream come true. I have always had a dream to create a superhero from Nigeria where I was born and raised. The second reason was pride. I wanted to do something positive and inspiration for my country (Nigeria) and my continent Africa. When people see E.X.O. either animated on screen or read as a graphic novel, I want them to see a different side of Africa (our booming tech industry, amazing city architecture, unique culture, African humor, Afrofuturism etc. ) , a side that is not regularly shown in mainstream media.

How did your Nigerian background influence this?

Growing up in Nigeria greatly influenced my writing. The story is set in 2025 and Nigeria has experienced a long peaceful streak. Corruption has been severely reduced, the economy is booming and technology is at the for front of everything. There is however a segment of people that are being oppressed. In the wake of progression it seems the poor are still getting poorer. And this begins to become more and more obvious. Because of this, the major issues (corruption, civil unrest etc.) that the nation has fought so hard to eliminate (with great success) starts to rear its ugly head again. And this is no more evident than in the rise of a new extremist group called The CREED. The CREED are lead by a very intelligent but sociopathic ex General called Oniku and he will stop at nothing to create unrest.

At what point did you decide Kickstarter was the right place to raise funds? Did you try other sources of funding before Kickstarter?

I felt like Kickstarter was the best place for me because I had seen many other successful comic books funded there. Kickstarter also has the most respectable brand when it comes to crowd funding.

How much did you raise? Did you achieve your goal?

The first Kickstarter I was able to raise $10,000. I just started my second Kickstarter 6 days ago and we have been able to raise about $8,000 already. It’s an amazing testament to all the people who have supported E.X.O. in the past year.

How has this helped you?

Tremendously. Without the Kickstarter(s) and the family, friends and strangers who have supported, my project will not be what it is today.

From your experience, do you think crowdfunding is the best way of raising funds for businesses and startups in Africa?

It’s hard for me to answer because I spend most of my time here in the U.S. I am not sure how different things would be if I decided to raise money while living in Nigeria.

Do you know of any African crowdfunding platform that is doing well?

Not really.

What are the cons of crowd funding?

It can be very humiliating if you don’t make your goal. Especially on Kickstarter. If you don’t hit your target, you get none of the money. That can be tough. It’s also a very tedious process preparing for a successful campaign. But if done right it can change your business forever

What would you call the biggest challenge facing creatives and entrepreneurs?

Financing. It has been very tough for me. Hence my decision to use Kickstarter.

How is Youneek Studios doing?

Thankfully it’s going great. We aren’t as globally recognized as we would like to be, but we understand building a brand takes time, patience, persistence and consistence. The great thing is that we are so far from where we where this time last year. So there’s a lot of progress.

Where do you comics in Nigeria and Africa at large by 2020?

A global sensation

Do you have anything Africans should look forward to?

More superhero stories (both via comics & animation) to come very soon

 

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