African Comics that are Great for Movie Adaptation

Movie shooting set and director

If you have been following comic book news in the last five years, you certainly know that African comics are garnering a lot of recognition from across the world. Kugali Media’s Iwaju, YouNeek studios’ Iyanu: Child of Wonder and Comic Republic’s Vanguards feature amongst the African comics that have penned adaptation deals with reputable organisations like Disney, Cartoon Network and Universal Studios lately. This recent increase in interest in African comics has been unprecedented. Apart from comics like Supa Strikas and Aya of Yop City which have had the privilege to exist in animated format, there haven’t  been any other major adaptations of African comics into other media, until now. With this, the next logical question one will ask is: what is the reason behind this sudden interest? Well, there are several reasons actually.

The world of entertainment has been and is still being dominated by the west, and so there is a need for some change. From movies, to animation, to games and even music, the west (the US especially) has dominated production, commercialization and sheer popularity ever since these things began to exist. This means that most of the movies, TV shows, games and even books consumed across the world came from the US and other western countries like the United Kingdom and France. This status quo needed to change, and the idea to look towards under-represented markets found favour and brought Africa, its culture and its products to the limelight.

The need for diversity also pushed many to look at African content more closely. In today’s world, diversity has been used many times as make up to beautify the ugly pig that is western cultural domination.It should however be noted that diversity helps people to know themselves and the world around them better, creating a deeper sense of empathy in people.

Above all, African comics and African stories are exotic. Making use of African cultures and traditions which are seldom pushed forward on international stages, African comics stand out with their uniqueness and make them a real centre of attraction. African comics are simply beautiful to look at.

So, it is clear that African comics are great and that the world has its eyes even more focused on content from the continent. This means better access to and adoption by international markets and many more movie adaptations to come. So, which are those African comics that would make great movies? Well, we went digging and we came up with the following list.

Note that this list consists of comics that have not yet received any form of transmedia treatment.

1. Anaki

Anaki comics and African comics on the zebra comics blog

Created by EN Ejob and published by Zebra Comics PLC, the afrofuturistic comic tells the story of Anaki, a witch and descendant of the almost extinct Balemba, who must survive an inquisition that is bent on annihilating her kind. This comic is particularly suitable for adaptation into film because it has a strong female protagonist, interesting characters, a deeply interesting story and a lush and beautiful African world that will keep your eyes popping with its varied and intelligently imagined futuristic world. Anaki is available to read online on the Zebra Comics app and website..

2. Mulatako

Mulatako African comics on the zebra comics blog

Published in two volumes so far, this graphic novel which packs Africanjujuism and Africanfuturism is a very eye candy when it comes to its art. Set in the depths of the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cameroon, this graphic novel tells a deeply moving story. JÉMÉA, a Jengu Water Spirit child, learns that she must repeat her class at Pamba, the initiation school. At the same time, the High Council of Chiefs decides to exterminate the school’s students and teachers. But Jéméa, her family and friends have no intention of letting this happen. The setting of the story in the depths of the Atlantic, the characters (mermaids whose feet look in the opposite direction), the creative use of science fiction in this African world and a strong protagonist all provide interesting material for movie adaptation. Mulatako was created by Reine Dibussi and published by Afiristudio.

3. Boxsa

Boxsa African comics on the zebra comics blog

African cultures, traditions and way of life are obviously traits that are found in African comics. One such comic which taps heavily from the aforementioned is BOXSA. Created by Ayodele Elegba, this comic digs deep into the life of the poor in Nigeria and presents a gripping story around a character who grows from the slums to become a hero. In his comic, Kazeem ‘Eazy’ lsmaila lives his life in the ghetto side of Lagos, Nigeria, as a local boxing champion. Under the pressures of life, he dis­covers a mystical talisman which grants him the powers of Nigerian deities. Will Eazy, now known as Boxsa, resist the temptation to use his powers for selfish reasons? Or will he use it to help the defenceless and fight the corruption becoming systematically rife in the Motherland? The comic packs all what a movie should have – great story, African culture and a strong protagonist.

4. Jember

Jember African comics on the Zebra Comics blog

Anyone who has been keeping up with the evolutions in the movie industry will agree that superhero movies have taken up a significant spot as far as movie production and commercial success are concerned. At the same time, it is no news that production qualities in the most recent iterations of superhero stories haven’t been the best. In this face of this situation therefore, making use of African superheroes will undoubtedly bring a breath of fresh air to the domain. JEMBER by Beserat Debebe is an African superhero comic that will do just that. Anxious, frustrated, and ready to leave his city behind, jobless graduate Amanuel Tilahun suddenly comes across an ancient biotech relic that changes his life. He must now make a choice; to help himself or the city that’s treated him like a nobody, and now sees him as a threat. This graphic novel packs Ethiopian culture, action and a different type of superhero – all ingredients for movie adaptation. JEMBER was published by Etan Comics.

5. Lake of Tears

Lake of Tears African comics on the zebra comics blog

Told through the eyes of three teenagers who meet on Lake Volta, Lake of Tears is an ongoing comic book about the many children who are trafficked and forced to work in Ghana’s hazardous inland fishing industry. After being mysteriously saved by Aya and Amina, Kyei decides to join forces with them to bring an end to the network of child slavery that has robbed them of their childhoods. With themes of childhood trauma, hope, and taking a stand, Lake of Tears captivates readers with its social commentary and strong cast of characters. A realistic story with fantasy elements, this comic is suitable for children and young adults. As already mentioned, this comic, created by Kobe Ofei and published by Kugali Media has all it takes to become a great movie.

6. Kush

Kush African comics on the zebra comics blog

Egyptian Pharaonic culture is probably the most exploited African culture in the history of entertainment as a whole. This therefore comes as no surprise that a story which has relations to Egyptian culture finds itself on this list. Kush is a story which showcases the exploits of Amineras who was once ruler of KUSH. This is the story of a Legendary Queen and her conquest of the Roman Empire. Coupled with the fact that this story is based on real events, all packs a ton of action, heroic characters, visually stunning settings and all culture which is similar to that of Egypt. This is great stuff for cinema. KUSH was created by EN Ejob and published by Zebra Comics PLC.

7. Caty

CATY African comics on the zebra comics blog

For a comic book whose principal inspiration is a popular TV show, it will be easy to say that this is a natural candidate for adaptation into film. However, this IPs attractiveness goes past inspiration alone. CATY which is the short form of Cellule Anti-terroriste de Yaounde which loosely translates as The Anti-Terrorism Cell in Yaounde, is an action packed comic which showcases the exploits of the charismatic Jacky Wabo who leads her peers at the anti-terrorism unit against bandits and terrorists in the city of Yaounde. This comic borrows heavily from local culture and way of life in Yaounde and even makes use of urban legends like the criminal called Essono, who once terrorised the city in real life. CATY is a combination of frenetic action, suspense and strong characters, making it a strong candidate for movie adaptation.

8. Les Dogues Noirs de L'empire

les dogues noirs de l'empire African comics on the zebra comics blog

Dahomey, August 1914. Bakary, a young warrior from the Kabyé ethnic group, must join the Senegalese riflemen to prevent his village from being razed to the ground by the colonial administration. His regiment’s mission is to invade neighbouring Togo, a territory under German protectorate, separated from Dahomey by a mere stream. Colonial borders don’t always take local realities into account, and Bakary finds himself up against his own people, including his own cousin. This action packed comic is a time drama that evokes this little-known page in African history. A depicts a time that is seldom spoken about which was violent and exotic at the same time – great movie material. This comic was created by Massiré Tounkara and Christophe Cassiau Haurie, and published by Harmattan BD.

9. Zeyang Mvu

Zeyang-Mvu African comics on the zebra comics blog

This comic, created by Objel Ottou and published by Editions Akoma Mba is a pure depiction of how African myths and traditions are exploited in comics. In this comic, three panther hunters decide to ignore the ban on anyone from visiting the Mvabilon forest, even if it means incurring the wrath of Zeyang Mvu, the animal god. The journey of these three hunters see them go through the most perilous of experiences as they meet face to face with the wrath of a deity that doesn’t enjoy trespassing. This original story transports us into the deep traditions of the continent and provides great material for original African movie adaptation.

10. Mancraft

Mancraft African comics on the zebra comics blog

Yes, there are comic book stories which mix investigation and fantasy with several spoons of African culture and traditions to produce a product which is unique and deeply engaging. MANCRAFT is that kind of comic. In this comic, Tain, a young desperate man, must learn the truth about his past to prevent a great evil from changing the hierarchy of power in the physical and spiritual world. This comic comes with beautiful visuals, great storytelling and strong characters who lean somewhat towards the superhero side of things. This dark and gritty tale was created by Ejob Gaius and it is available on the Zebra Comics app and website.

So, there you have it; ten comic books which all have the potential to become great movies. This list, however, is far from exhausting the huge potential that is found in African comics. There are just so many other comics which provide wonderful source material for movies than we can provide here. Consequently, there will be other articles which explore other African comics that will be great for the big screen.

Scroll to Top