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How Roye Okupe’s hit indie comic books became Dark Horse’s next big project



The crackling energy of YouNeek’s books, created and written by Okupe, and drawn by rising African stars, have found them a lovely spot in a market currently ravenous for diversity.

Up next for Dark Horse Comics is a 10-book partnership with hot indie player YouNeek Studios, publishers of OGNs featuring diverse characters, and unique stories in exciting new worlds. 

By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu

When Roye Okupe dreamed of creating an African superhero universe, he went all-out. After all, his inspiration includes the animated X-Men TV series, the Transformers, and other established properties. However, he didn’t bargain for his line of independently-published books to gain a large following that a publishing partnership with Dark Horse Comics would happen. The unprecedented deal will see the big publisher releasing YouNeek Studios’ entire line of comics, across 10 books, which Okupe created to focus on African stories and characters.

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For Okupe, it’s a dream come true. A self-confessed geek, he grew up in Lagos, Nigeria on a steady diet of comics and related media, before moving to the United States in 2002, aged 17. While at George Washington University for a degree in Computer Science, he was simultaneously studying Animation at the Art Institute of Washington. After graduation, he created and shopped around an animated trailer featuring a futuristic African superhero, but it got little interest. He soldiered on, telling stories he wanted to tell, how he wanted to.

Roye Okupe

Fast-forward a bit, and YouNeek’s books are massive hits on the indie scene, reporting sell-out after sell-out of Kickstarter-funded books at conventions and online stores. The Dark Horse Comics deal was struck in 2019 when the publisher’s editor-in-chief Dave Marshall met Okupe at New York Comic-Con. He dazzled Marshall with an understanding of the market, as well as his success in creating an entire universe via complete stories and graphic novels, instead of splitting them into monthly issues like the big companies usually do.

Malika: Warrior Queen is a massive hit

The crackling energy of YouNeek’s books, created and written by Okupe, and drawn by rising African stars, have found them a lovely spot in a market currently ravenous for diversity. It will most certainly highlight the work of the artists, which include Chima Kalu, Sunkanmi Akinboye, Raphael Kazeem, Etubi Onucheyo and Toyin Ajetunmobi on ‘Malika: Warrior Queen’. On ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’, he is joined by illustrator Godwin Akpan, while on ‘E.X.O.’ he collaborated again with Akinboye, Kazeem, Ajetunmobi, Onucheyo and Tarella Pablo.

While the Dark Horse Comics deal is a good thing, Okupe feels the immediate impact is that YouNeek Studios will have a lot more people paying attention, causing a spotlight to shine on African creators, including his collaborators. The deal will see the books rolled out on Sept. 7, Sept. 21, and Oct 19, 2021. For a previously small indie publisher that began with a vision to create an African superhero universe – and talented creators dazzling their audience – things have become excitingly global.

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Nommo Awards 2024: And the nominees are…



The shortlist for the African Speculative Fiction Society’s Nommo Awards 2024 was announced on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. The Nommo Awards celebrate science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Since 2016, the event has been an annual affair celebrating writers in the categories of Best Speculative Novel by an African, Best Speculative Novella by an African, Best Speculative Short Story by an African, and Best Graphic Novel/Comic by an African.

Nommo laurels have been clinched by Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, Akwaeke Emezi, Tochi Onyebuchi, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Nana Akosua Hanson, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, Innocent Chizaram Ilo, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Wole Talabi, Nerine Dorman, T. L. Huchu, Pemi Aguda, among others.

The shortlist for the 2024 edition is as follows:


Bones and Runes, Stephen Embleton (Abibiman Publishing, 2022)

Dazzling, Chikodili Emelumadu (Hachette; Wildifre, Headline Publishing Group, 2023)

Don’t Answer when They Call Your Name, Ukamaka Olisakwe (Masobe Books, 2023)

Shigidi and the Brass Head of Olabufon, Wole Talabi (Gollancz and DAW Books, 2023)

Vagabonds!, Eloghosa Osunde (Harper Collins; 4th Estate and Riverhead Books, 2022)

Warrior of the Wind, Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit Books, 2023)


Broken Paradise, Eugen Bacon (Luna Press Publishing, 2023)

Land of the Awaiting Birth, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Joshua Uchenna Omenga (from Between Dystopias: The Road to Afropantheology, SF & Fantasy, 2023)

The Lies of the Ajungo, Moses Ose Utomi (Tordotcom/Masobe, 2023)

Undulation, Stephen Embleton (from Mothersound: The Sauútiverse Anthology, 2023)

Short Story

A Name is a Plea and a Prophecy, Gabrielle Emem Harry (Strange Horizons 14 August, 2023)

Blackwater Children, Moustapha Mbacké Diop (Haven Speculative Fiction, Issue 7, Nov 2022)

Destiny Delayed, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Vol 46, May/June, 2022) Kɛrozin Lamp Kurfi by Victor Forna (Apex Magazine, 2023)

Like Stars Daring to Shine, Somto Ihezue (Fireside Fiction, July 2022)

Loom, Solomon Uhiara (Dark Matter Magazine No. 8, 2022)

My Mother’s Love, Naomi Eselojor (Hexagon Issue 10 / Fall, 2022)

Osimiri, Chinaza Eziaghighala (Fission #2: Volume 1, An Anthology of Stories from the British Science Fiction Association, BSFA & HWS Press, 2022)

The Way of Baa’gh, Cheryl S. Ntumy (Mothersound: The Sauútiverse Anthology, Android Press, 2023)

Graphic Novel

Die Strandloper, Daniël Hugo (Dream Press & Daniël Hugo, 2022)

Grimm’s Assistant, Mamode Ogbewele (Mode Comics, 2023)

WindMaker volume 1, Roye Okupe, Sunkanmi Akinboye, Toyin Ajetunmobi and Godwin Akpan (Dark Horse Comics, 2022)

The winners will be announced at a yet-to-be-disclosed venue and date.

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Countdown to Lagos Comic Convention 2023 begins



The yearly geek event is Nigeria’s most prominent, and this year promises to grow with more to showcase, and inspire.

By Mariam Abdullahi

The most-anticipated geek event in Nigeria, the Lagos Comic Convention, is set for a return. With just 10 days left, the one-day extravaganza will take place at Landmark Event Centre from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, the 23rd of September, 2023. As always, a star-studded list of Nigerian creators will be in attendance, with most of the companies and studios already billed to appear, or have a major corporate presence.

The attendance count for this remarkable event continues to grow each year, and GeekAfrique will update you on that as the figures become available. The prediction is that this year will be huge, as Nigeria continues to feature prominently on the global pop culture scene.

The theme for this year’s convention involves the rise of AI and concerns around its use, so it is bound to be interesting.

A short statement on the event’s official website reads: “Attending LCC is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience! Make the most of your weekend in Lagos, play and cosplay your way through the city with a variety of things to do. It’s time to get your geek on! We’re looking forward to welcoming you again to this edition of Lagos comic [convention].”

The attendance count for this remarkable event continues to grow each year, and GeekAfrique will update you on that as the figures become available. The prediction is that this year will be huge, as Nigeria continues to feature prominently on the global pop culture scene.

You can buy tickets in advance HERE.

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Why Nigerian comics are taking the world by storm



Over the past few years, Nigerian comic books have been making waves in the global comic book industry. From their unique storytelling style to their stunning artwork, are being celebrated for their authenticity. What’s the reason for this tour de force?

By Mariam Abdullahi

Nigerian comic books are breaking new ground in terms of representation. For years, the comic books available to readers have been dominated by Western superheroes, with little room for diversity. Nigerian comic books, on the other hand, showcase a wide range of characters, from traditional folklore heroes to contemporary superheroes. These characters are not only diverse in terms of race and ethnicity but also in terms of gender.

This diversity is refreshing and exciting, as it provides a space for underrepresented voices to be heard. One very good example is the YouNeek Universe’s array of titles, like ‘Malika’, ‘E.X.O’, and ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ (currently being developed as an animated series for Cartoon Network). Most recently, Comic Republic was announced to have inked a deal with a major Hollywood production company to produce TV shows based on their line of comics.

There will be more international deals announced as they year goes on. After all, Nigerian comic books are celebrated for their unique storytelling style, known for their use of local languages, dialects, and colloquialisms. This approach not only adds authenticity to the stories but also creates a sense of familiarity for local audiences. Moreover, the use of folklore, mythology, and history provide a fresh perspective on African history and mythology.

They are also praised for their stunning artwork, with work by artists like Etubi Onucheyo, Jide Okonkwo, Mustapha Bulama, Kro Onimole, Chigozie Amadi, Bolaji Olaloye, Godwin Akpan, and many more. They are known for vibrant, colourful, and dynamic art styles, with visually stunning and unique styles that stand out.

For years, they have struggled to get their work recognized on a global scale, but thanks to tech and especially the internet, Nigerian creators now have an ever-widening platform to showcase their talents, and providing a space for them to tell their stories. These stunning comic books also play a vital role in promoting literacy and education. In a country where illiteracy rates are high, comic books provide an accessible and engaging way for people to learn.

Nigerian comic books and their creators often address social and political issues, making them an excellent tool for educating people on important issues. A couple of years ago, the works of writer/illustrator/cartoonist/editor Abdulkareem Baba Aminu were included in the award-winning anthology ‘The Most Important Comic Book On Earth’ alongside that of Alan Moore, John Wagner, Cara Delevingne, Charlie Adlard, and 300 other leading environmentalists, artists, authors, actors, filmmakers, and musicians.

Some Nigerian comic books are even available in local languages, making them accessible to a wider audience. There is also a number of publishers making giant strides, like Spoof!, Vortex, Epoch Comics, Comic Republic, and others. It’s safe to conclude that Nigerian comic books are changing the narrative of African storytelling, as attested to by the high quality of writers and creators, bringing out fresh and compelling stories, characters and concepts.

For too long, African stories have been told by outsiders. That is changing fast, with the rise in showcasing the richness and diversity of African cultures, challenging stereotypes, and promoting a more nuanced understanding of Africa. Overall, they are taking the world by storm for good reason, providing a space for underrepresented voices to be heard, promoting diversity, and showcasing Nigerian talent. As the global comic book industry continues to evolve, Nigerian comics are sure to play an increasingly important role in shaping its future.

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