I like to remind anybody who cares to listen that the first thing I ever read was a comic.
Of course, I cannot remember if that’s true or it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but it was definitely one of the first things I ever read. I had a brother who was an avid reader, and I guess the colorful pictures were what drew me in.
And then, the possibilities. Imagine a man who dressed like a bat to frighten criminals, a lone survivor – the last of his kind, a nerd bitten by a radioactive spider, another nerd bombarded with millions of gamma radiation (some of it don’t make sense; I know) but it was fun.
Also it broadened my mind. My horizons. My vocabulary.
And made me a hit with the ladies quite early.
All through my growing years I found ways to steadily feed my addiction to comics. When we ran out spots to buy comics I would embrace The Punch (my mom was actually impressed I was reading newspapers in primary five; but it was the cartoons!) and Vanguard for Garth and Captain Africa respectively. I’m sure some of you seventies-early eighties babies remember Benbella and Lulu and of course, Funtimes (how many people know Papa Ajasco was actually a comic character?)!
That article is coming soon enough. But I digress.
One of the complaints we had back then was a lack of Nigerian comics. We wanted characters we knew and could relate to, characters that spoke our language, wore our clothes – characters who complained about NEPA and water and the government; but then went one step further and SOLVED those problems even though they were the subject of fantasies. A couple of people started some thing in that regard – but due to the normal reasons things fizzle out here, that fizzled out.
But not all of them did.
Fast forward to 2013, one Saturday morning in September. Just finished one of those ‘meetings’ and I’m wondering what next – and then I remember I had gotten a text earlier that week inviting me to an ‘Emperor’s Groove’. For a moment I was like what?!
As I decided to delete the text my side-eye caught the word ‘comics’. Game. Over.
Especially comics created and drawn in Nigeria for Nigerians by Nigerians?! It was a wet dream come true (watch Big Bang Theory to understand that).
So there I headed o, heart in mouth hoping not to be crushed. There have been so many similar events, so many similar platforms that started – and then died prematurely for reasons best known to the organizers. I was hoping for the best – though fully prepared for the worst.
I wasn’t crushed.
The first thing I saw was the spread of comics. Beautiful covers, eye-catching fonts and stories…I went from stall to stall, picking up comics and inhaling their fresh-print smell. I was in heaven! There were posters, stickers, magazines, freebies for download – all sorts of fan-boy materials.
After buying to my heart’s desire, I went to look for the organizers of the event and got to meet the man behind the whole thing – the head ’emperor’ if you will; Ibrahim Ganiyu, the mind behind some of the creative works seen on today’s screens. Ibrahim had a huge role to play in the inception of the Indomitables (Indomie Noddles Characters).
Me: Pleased to meet you, Ibrahim. I’m quite excited by this. Huge shout out on the Indomitables thing!
I wonder where the idea came from…
Ibrahim: Thank you, Seun.
A comic con we can have every month! Why not let fans and publishers know that every month there’s one place they can meet and do business? So a publisher can’t reach all the stores but a fan doesnt know where to get Nigerian Comics…create a market (not unlike the food markets- regular and all) where both can meet. No frills, just buying and selling of comics!
Me: So what’s feedback been like?
Feed back has been positive and interesting. We have comic publishers giving away their prints, people coming in from Ibadan to participate, parents asking when the next one will be and if theyll get to see more titles etc.
Presently EG is funded largely by ICStudios (Ibrahim’s Imprint/Company) but has actually been supported more by the Publishers themselves. Pnuema comics (from Ibadan), Stallion Comics, Elixir Studios, Laffta Chapta, Prex to name some.
Me: As you know, the most recent Hollywood blockbusters are movies based on comic stories/characters. Of the two major companies, who’s kicking ass – DC (home to Batman, Man of Steel, Wonder Woman) or Marvel (Iron Man, Avengers, Hulk, Wolverine, X Men)?
Ibrahim: Movies: hard to tell these days…I am still reeling in Man of Steel! but I’ll say now, the 2 giants have just about even out. perhaps a new release will shoot one above the other…who knows? Iron Man 4? Avengers 2? Man of Steel 2? Wonder Woman? The future is thick with expectations!!
Me: Dark Edge is your studio’s leading character. When are we likely to see a live-action movie – or at least animation?
Ibrahim: A Dark Edge movie: Woah! Its a question we’ll love to answer too. Still thinking which way to go: Full animated? Live action? Both are presently in consideration but we are more in the market for a good screen writer to partner with to develop a good play for the movie on either platform.
Me: When is the next Emperor’s Groove and what can the fans expect?
Ibrahim: It comes up on the 16th of November 2013 at Plot 18, Lateef Jakande Road, Omole Ikeja Lagos.
There’s a whole lot to look forward to. We’ll be having Dark Edge collectors edition (issues 1-3), Dark Edge IV on sale and June XII in print at this month’s edition with Dark Edge V previewed. Dark Edge V will be released at the comic con.
We will also be having a drawing competition at the venue with an award for the winner. We have more Nigerian Comics coming on the stands too!
You should come o. There’s plenty to see and have!
Me: Thank you for your time, Ibrahim.
Ibrahim: My pleasure.
And so I went to my house, comics in my arms, joy in my heart. I mean, if someone had told Stan Lee in 1932 (or thereabouts) that one day the characters he created would be earning billions of dollars he might have collapsed.
I mean, anything is possible, right?
Dream, Emperors. The world is ours.