News

Meet Nigeria's New Superhero, Wale Williams

Lagos-born animator Roye Okupe releases part 1 of his Nigerian superhero trilogy, 'E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams.'

All images courtesy of Roye Okupe


Update February 1, 2016: Roye Okupe has launched a campaign to complete Part 2 of E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams.

“I wasn’t born a hero. I had to become one.”

So begins graphic novel trilogy E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, which had its official release this week. In it, Wale Williams, a young Nigerian man, returns home to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his father, a brilliant inventor. Upon his arrival, he inherits a Nanosuit, giving him the superpowers needed to fight the corrupt leaders, robotic drones, and radical extremists that plague his futuristic home-- the Lagos-inspired Lagoon City.

Conceived of by Lagos-born digital animator and YouNeek Studios founder Roye Okupe, the comic world of Wale Williams is a welcome addition to the emerging canon of afrofuturistic stories featuring African characters. When we caught up with longtime superhero lover Okupe prior to the launch of his Kickstarter campaign, he recounted what drove him to invest his time and money in the story after being told repeatedly that his great idea wouldn't have a fan base.

"From the first day I laid my eyes on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons in the ’80s, I’ve been hooked on superheroes. Since then I’ve watched, played and read every single superhero-related title I could lay my hands on: movies, comics, manga, anime, graphic novels, animated movies/series, video games etc. Then in 2008, after noticing there wasn’t a lot of diversity within the genre, I decided to tell a story about a hero from Nigeria."

The success of the novel's Kickstarter speaks to the gravity of his vision. "We hit our target in about two days and for the rest of the Kickstarter campaign we got $10,000," Okupe told CNN. "It was then that I knew this was the right path. Any failure I felt before -- not getting the animation, getting rejected by so many distributors and producers, people telling me my idea is not going to work -- it finally justified the fact I never quit on myself." The product is finally here, beautifully made, and available for purchase. In the future, YouNeek Studios plans to create a more Africa-inclusive collection of superhero comics, including an animated EXO feature film.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 is available via Amazon, Kindle, Apple iBooks, or directly from YouNeek Studios. The first chapter can also be found for free here.

Interview

This Compilation Shines a Light On East African Underground Music

We talk to a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation from Uganda's Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege, a label in Kampala, Uganda is channelling the confidence brimming over a whole continent. Africa is no longer the future. For dance music, its time is right now.

Music For the Eagles is a compilation released in conjunction with Soundcloud to showcase the best new acts that East Africa has to offer outside the mainstream. A new wave of artists firmly blasting non-conformist energy for you to spasm to. Music that takes you places. Otim Alpha's high BPM wedding frenzy of incessant rasping vocals accompanied by feverous violin will have you clawing the walls to oblivion. Anti Vairas' dancehall from a battleship with super galactic intentions doesn't even break a sweat as it ruins you. FLO's beautiful sirens call, is a skittish and detuned nursery rhyme that hints at a yearning for love but reveals something far more unnerving. Ecko Bazz's tough spiralling vocal over sub-bass and devil trap energy is an anthem that can only be bewailed. And Kidane Fighter's tune is more trance-like prayer. These are only some of the highlights for you to shake it out to.

We got to chat with a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation as they took a break from the studio below.

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