This Nigerian Comic Book Company Created A Series Of Badass African Superheroes

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It’s safe to say that the comic book world in general has become a much wider and diverse landscape that it ever was before. Looking at the two dominant names, Marvel and DC Comics, we are seeing a whole slew of interesting, gender-bent and important characters being portrayed in an effort to represent the growing and diverse comic book audience around the world.

We’ve seen Ms. Marvel’s new incarnation as a young Muslim teen from New Jersey named Kamala Khan, ‘Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’ get a makeover with a female protagonist instead of a male like in the original version, the new Thor being written as a woman, and more recently, as part of Marvel’s “All New, All Different” initiative, we’ve seen the Hulk be rewritten as Korean-American boy genius Amadeus Cho.

Of course there are endless possibilities when diversity becomes an integral part of what companies like Marvel are doing, but they are not alone in bearing this burden. We have just learned about a fairly new company from Nigeria who are infiltrating the comic book universe in spectacular way. Comic Republic is based out the Lagos, and was launched in 2013 by CEO Jide Martin who looked at the comic book industry across Africa and felt there were not enough authentically African stories and characters catering to their audience.

Believing in the power of stories, Jide and his team set out to create something badass that would inspire a generation of African readers to feel represented in comic books.

“Sometimes, people struggle with acceptance of who they are. With our stories, we want to reprogram the values and beliefs that drive behavior among individuals. We want to inspire people to believe they can be so much more than they think if only they believe, we want to drive them to believe they have the power to influence their future,” said the company’s head of marketing and corporate communications Eduvie Oyaide to OkayAfrica.com.

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So far they have released 6 major titles that are available to read online for free. Their flagship character is 25-year-old Nigerian Tunde Jaiye, otherwise known as Guardian Prime.

“Our flagship character is Guardian Prime. A Guardian is born once every 2000 years. Most live their lives without ever knowing who they truly are. The Gaya, the Mother Nature, awakens the Guardian within a host when the world needs it most. This time…the Guardian is Nigerian. Such is The Might of Guardian Prime,” says the description on their Facebook Page of his character.

Aside from the individual stories, they have a combined series they have titled ‘Vanguards’ which was described by the company as the African version of ‘The Avengers’. The idea behind the Vanguards series is to not just show all their awesome characters combine powers and work together, but to emphasize the idea of coming together for a “better, safer Africa”, according to the company’s Chief Operations Officer/Creative Director Tobe Ezeogu.

Balancing entertainment as well as meaningful messages, Comic Republic wants readers to use these stories as a way to enhance their own self-esteem, and understand everyone can be a hero.

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Like with other diversity initiatives happening the Marvel and DC Comics universes, Comic Republic is ensuring they have a series of kickass female superheroes to cater to their diverse audience. They have Bidemi Ogunde, an archaeology student and excellent gymnast at the University of Ibadan who got her powers when she was attacked by a scourge at the national museum in Lagos, half-Nigerian, half-Venezuelan character Aje, the mighty warrior Ireti (lead image in this article), espionage expert and superhuman soldier Jade Waziri, and mysterious character Avonome who has the ability to speak to spirits.

When OkayAfrica’s Alyssa Klein asked Eduvie Oyaide why the focus on female superheroes, her answer was the best: “Why not? There are not enough of them. These stories promote our culture. [They] focus on the inner strength of a woman and also promote subtle values and catchy phrases,” she said.

COO Tobe Egiozu added that these female characters were created to fill a large gap they saw in the African comic book world, and that they wanted to create better female role models than those that already exist in the world.

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“There is a lack of female heroes in the African scene in general. Girls don’t have heroines to look up to these days, rather they have celebrities of questionable character. What you end up with is a generic stereotype of the female gender. Girls are seen to others as delicate roses, and we say yes, females are roses, but roses have thorns and roses are tough not delicate. We wanted female characters that would become icons to the African girl growing up to give them something to aspire to that they too can be heroes and it’s not an all male field,” he stated.

If we can all be heroes, then why aren’t there more superheroes to represent the melting pot of audiences from around the world? Of course it is unrealistic to expect every character to represent literally every person in the world, but what these diversity initiatives and companies like Comic Republic are showing us is that there is still plenty of room to maneuver and diversify.

At the recent New York Comic Con, MTV ‘Decoded’ host Franchesca Ramsey went on a mission to ask cosplayers and attendeess just how much they thought of diversity and whether it was a big deal to them. She started out asking if people could name 7 characters of color, and sadly not many could achieve the task.

Fusion points out that in some cases, it’s not just just about having the characters exist, it’s that they don’t get highlighted enough which is why more editors of color are an important aspect to this process. They shared a list of 7 superheroes of color (aside from X-Men’s Storm) that everyone should know about, which is a good start.

Be sure to check out and support everything Comic Republic is doing and spread the word! We need more diverse superheroes to save us from conformity. You can also check out Franchesca’s NYCC video below:


 

 

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