Ayodele Elegba, nicknamed ‘The Dream Maker’ in the Nigerian comic book industry, created Lagos Comic-Con, the fastest-growing annual gathering of geeks in the country. As if that’s not awesome enough, the restless creative will give fans and pros alike a brand-new festival this coming December, called Radical Exhibition of New and Diverse Animation, or RENDACON for short. He sat down for a chat with GeekAfrique, and herewith are excerpts:
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
GeekAfrique: How and why did you create RENDACON?
Ayodele Elegba: After attending the Annecy Film festival in France for several years, it dawned on me that not every Nigerian with great animation talent could have the privilege of attending such a global event. This was painful to realize, as I could count the number of Nigerian creators who could afford to attend such a festival. I asked myself why we couldn’t have a festival like Annecy’s to celebrate ourselves and the growth of animation in Nigeria. So in 2018, we ran a competition at Lagos Comic-Con, which allowed one winner the opportunity to travel to Annecy.
But I felt this was not enough, and I also noticed that that animation in Africa was expanding so much, but people still don’t believe that we have the quality and standards that can rival any studio in the world. So I simply dreamed up a platform where I could achieve all this, and I decided to launch RENDACON. It’s basically a festival that hopes to showcase and celebrate the radical and diverse types of animation coming out of Africa.
GeekAfrique: What’s the main difference between Lagos Comic-Con and Rendacon?
Elegba: Lagos Comic-Con is a fan event and geek market where everyone comes to see what’s new in Nigerian pop culture in the form of comic books, film, TV shows, and so on. We have exhibitions and panels to talk about industry segments and issues too. Lagos Comic-Con is a jamboree of sorts, and this year we had over 6,000 attendees.
RENDACON, on the other hand, is going to be an animation festival and an exclusive industry event that focuses on animation, as well as pro and aspiring animators. Only animation-related topics are discussed here, and we will expose the local animation market to the rest of the world. We are bringing content-buyers to meet content-makers, simple. Students will also meet professionals, and learn from them. We have over 200 films to be screened this year on 2 cinema screens, and we are bringing industry experts to discuss critical issues on the growth of animation in Africa.
GeekAfrique: What should fans and attendees expect at RENDACON?
Elegba: This year is the inaugural standalone edition, as we have had RENDACON as a subset of Lagos Comic-Con for over 5 years now. This year RENDACON is going solo as its own event at the prestigious and elegant EbonyLife Place on Victoria Island, on the 17th and 18th of December, 2021. We have over 50 speakers from every aspect of animation. We will also have some brilliant filmmakers premiering new work exclusively. It is a ticketed event, and each ticket includes a meal, as well as access to halls. The event has been strategically curated so that each hall caters to the different needs of the industry.
The regular ticket targets the regular animation fan, and students who aspire to become pros. The VIP ticket is for professionals in the animation industry, staff, or studio owners, and the events there will focus on growth. The VVIP ticket Is for investors, distributors, producers, and studio owners who want to network and collaborate for greater opportunities in the area of funding, systems building, and an understanding of the animation business in general. You can grab tickets here:
GeekAfrique: Nigeria is making some giant strides globally in animation. Where do you see it in the next five years?
Elegba: I see a bright future for Nigerian animation. Many studios have started rising up, and there’s so much interest in Nigerian talent abroad, as we see today many Nigerians working for studios like Netflix, Marvel, and even Disney. In the next five years, more studios will be creating their own content and selling to international platforms. We will have many training facilities teaching animation and students straight out of secondary school will be learning 2D animation while waiting for admission.
And of course, we are going to see the quality improve as more software companies will open shop here in Nigeria, bringing in global funding. I am hoping that in these five years, major international networks will be traveling down to Nigeria to scout for talent and content.
GeekAfrique: Which Nigerian studio – apart from your own Spoof! Animation of course – creates work that excites you?
Elegba: I am really excited about Komotion Studios right now, and RENDACON attendees will have exciting, major updates on their upcoming Sàngó animated film. They do great work, and I can’t wait to see their brilliant take on the Yoruba god of thunder.
#KickstarterWatch: Gorgeous ‘Black Rain’ animated short fully-funded, eyes stretch goals
An alien planet, an environmental disaster, and an unspeakable evil are part of this incredible project from Vortex Corp.
By Justina Terhember
VX Animation’s ‘Black Rain’ recently hit its goal on Kickstarter, and had an extra length added as stretch goals. If gorgeously-designed Afro-futuristic 2D animated 8-minute short films are your thing, then head on out HERE to make sure this brilliant project hits the mark. The world-building of this project is truly breathtaking.
‘Black Rain’ tells the story of Esan, a planet under siege by a corrupt conglomerate, and is told through the eyes of a young child named Boubini. Inspired by the tragic events surrounding the Ijaw tribe in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, it mirrors the reality in Nigeria of unprecedented environmental disasters caused by oil spills.
Spearheaded by VX Animation’s head honcho Somto Ajuluchukwu, the project also boasts of having a stellar team which includes Executive Producer Rad Sechrist (creator of Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts) and Supervisors Andy Cung (storyboard artist for Cartoon Network & Netflix) and Chris Amick (writer for Adult Swim, Dreamworks).
As promised by Ajuluchukwu early on during the project’s PR blitz, ‘Black Rain’ is slowly putting together an A-list roster of voice talent, including Nollywood stars.
According to official material, “VX Animation is a Nigerian-based animation studio dedicated to creating authentic, and compelling animation. With award-winning animated films screened across the world and recognized in the global press, we continue to push the boundaries of our craft bringing the spotlight to Africa while creating value for an emerging industry.”
#KickstarterWatch: 8 days left to support epic animated short ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’
With only 8 days left to the end of the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’, here’s a strong recommendation to rush over there and give support.
By Justina Terhember
The Kickstarter campaign for ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’ is designed to raise funds to make possible a complete and polished 10-minute animated short film, which Spoof! will pitch to companies like Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, with the future goal of turning it into a series or full-length film. Today, with only eight days to go, it is almost fully funded. However, your support will go a long way in making the project a reality.
Do click HERE to support the Kickstarter campaign, and to also view the action-packed trailer and other features and rewards.
The director, Ayodele ‘Dream Maker’ Elegba, is also the CEO of Spoof! Studios, and he heads an incredible team that includes some of the best animation talents on the African continent. He had some words about the project: “We are a team that believes everyone can benefit from understanding the world around them. We have created ‘Ajaka: Lost in Rome’ to give people the chance to experience this historical story with an edge of magic and fantasy.”
Lupita Nyong’o’s ‘Super Sema’ signs massive licensing, publishing deal
The popular YouTube Originals series “Super Sema,” starring and executive produced by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, has appointed UTA as its North American licensing and publishing agency. UTA will work alongside global toy licensee Just Play to focus on retail initiatives and key partnerships in publishing, apparel, home, and accessories for the program, which is the world’s first children’s animated series focused on an African kid superhero.
“The series follows the world-changing adventures of an extraordinary young African girl, Sema, and her twin brother MB, who are on a mission to protect their town Dunia from the villainous Tobor.”
Fueled by STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) superpowers, Sema knows that with determination and creativity, anything is possible. “Super Sema” is produced by the next-generation startup Kukua, shepherded by a female-led team including Kukua founder and CEO Lucrezia Bisignani and Nyong’o, who is a shareholder in Kukua.
‘Super Sema’ represents a historic step forward in the world of educational children’s entertainment, and we couldn’t be happier to help bring its characters to life,” Sid Kaufman, an agent in UTA’s Ventures department, said while announcing the partnership. “We are looking forward to working with Kukua and Just Play to license and publish products that embody the show’s positive themes.”
Just Play will first introduce “Super Sema” toys, including talking dolls and plush characters, with products expected to launch across North America in fall 2022.
“From the very beginning, ‘Super Sema’ stood out as one of those shows that had that special something. They don’t come around very often, but when they do, it’s phenomenal.”
“Like UTA, we were drawn to Super Sema, who embodies strength, curiosity, innovation, and confidence,” added Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play. “We’re thrilled to partner with Kukua and UTA on this phenomenal franchise to bring the adventure-themed play of this inspiring African role model to kids all over the world.”
The animated series is the foundation of the growing edutainment franchise. “Super Sema’s” first season, made up of 20 five-minute episodes, premiered in March 2021. The second season of the YouTube Originals series, which will consist of 12 11-minute episodes, will debut this spring. Complementing the new season, Kukua will launch a series of educational videos on YouTube to help kids explore the STEAM themes and topics featured in “Super Sema.”
“From the very beginning, ‘Super Sema’ stood out as one of those shows that had that special something. They don’t come around very often, but when they do, it’s phenomenal,” noted Nadine Zylstra, YouTube Originals’ head of family, learning, and impact. “We’ve been so inspired working with the incredible Kukua team, and with tens of millions of views on their channel in just the last year, it’s been wonderful to see the rest of the world fall in love with Sema, too.”