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.
‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ animated series greenlit at HBO Max and Cartoon Network
A 2D animated adaptation of ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’, a Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel series heavily influenced by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, has been announced by HBO Max and Cartoon Network.
By Justina Terhember
An animated TV series has been announced by HBO and Cartoon Network, to be based on the all-ages superhero graphic novel called ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’, which is set in a magical kingdom in Yorubaland. Created by Roye Okupe and Godwin Akpan, it tells the tale of the titular heroine, a teenage orphan who spends her days studying Yoruba history and ancient arts but yearns for everyday life. One day, responding to danger, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers, the likes of which have not been seen since the Age of Wonders. With newly discovered superpowers, she joins forces with two other teenagers as they embark on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the evil lurking in her homeland.
Okupe will also write and direct multiple episodes. Lion Forge head of production Saxton Moore serves as supervising director, while Brandon Easton leads the writer’s room. Executive producers include Okupe, Doug Schwalbe, Carl Reed, Lion Forge’s David Steward II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital’s Erica Dupuis and Forefront Media Group’s Ryan Haidarian.
“When I set out to create ‘Iyanu’ for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” said Roye Okupe.
“When I set out to create ‘Iyanu’ for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” said Roye Okupe. “On top of that, working with Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, as our art director and collaborating with a thoughtful studio like Lion Forge Animation that prioritizes authenticity and diversity, is beyond belief.”
The greenlight of ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ is notable as it continues signaling the emergence of Africa as a player in global streaming. Much of this growth begins in the kids and family space — for example, Lupita Nyong’o became an equity partner in Nairobi, Kenya-based production company Kukua in 2021 and stars in its YouTube Originals animated series ‘Super Sema’.
“‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ has it all – vast world-building, authentic characters, a strong, African female hero at the center, and a first-class team of stellar creators and producers,” said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. “While created for kids, the series will resonate with anyone looking for an adventure filled with surprise, magic, lore, and legend. We feel so lucky to be the home of ‘Iyanu’ and partnering with this team.”
“The authenticity of the ‘Iyanu’ story means everything to us and aligns perfectly with our mission to create and deliver inclusive content to global audiences,” said Stewart, founder of Lion Forge.
#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.”