Mythology In African Comics

In the course of your reading journey, you probably have asked this question, “Why is mythology a predominant theme in African comics, webtoon and manga?” Well, whether you have or not, the question of mythology in comics has come up more times than one can imagine. However, before we venture into the reasons why mythology is such an attractive topic for creators and consumers of comics, it is important to get our definitions straight first.

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A mythology is a collection of myths or stories about a specific person, culture, religion, or any group with shared beliefs. Most people don’t consider mythology to be entirely true, but they still take it seriously. Going by this definition and looking at it in relation to African culture and traditions, one can easily see why mythology is a thing in African comics. African cultures are usually very spiritual in nature. Myths usually emanate from African cultures which were predominantly oral in the past. In these oral traditions which were very philosophical in nature, myths were used as a way of passing across ideologies and ways of life in the most effective ways to younger generations. In African folklore, therefore, there are many myths that comics, webtoon and manga creators have turned to for inspiration. Some of them include myths around gods like Shango, animals and even totems.

Aurion legaci of the kori-odan mythology african comics on zebra comics

This world of myths and mythology, however, is not the creation of African culture alone. Myths have existed in all parts of the world since human creation. From Norse mythology, passing through the Aztec myths, to Chinese beliefs, world mythologies have always been part of human beliefs. This, undoubtedly, has influenced the creation of the most popular comics, webtoon and manga we know today. Many superhero characters are the products of inspiration drawn from popular mythologies. Some good examples include Wonder Woman (a superhero inspired by gods from Greek mythology), 18 Days (Based on the Indian epic Mahabharata), THOR (based on the Norse god of thunder), Deadman (based on Hindu Mythology), Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (based on Japanese mythology) and Shazam (which finds its origins in Greek mythology). These and many more show how much mythology has influenced creation of comics across the world.

As far as African comics are concerned, mythologies have played a great role in shaping the inspiration of creators from the mother continent. Out of the box, the continent boasts of a rich repertoire of mythology which makes for fertile grounds from which to dig out inspiring ideas and characters for truly memorable stories. Some examples of comics based on African mythology and folklore include Malika: Warrior Queen by Roye Okupe and published by Dark Horse Comics and YouNeek Studios (based on west African myths), Amadioha created by Tobe Max Ezeogu and published by Comic Republic, Jember created by Beserat Debebe and published by Etan Comics, Anaki created by E.N. Ejob and published by Zebra Comics PLC, Chayoma: Curse of the Jangura by Peter Chizoba Daniel and published by Peda Comics, Beasts of Tazeti created by Ejob Gaius and published by Zebra Comics PLC, Strike Guard created by Ayodele Elegba and published by Spoof Comics, Wrong Dial created by Fensou Miles and published by Zebra Comics PLC, Jakuta by Ayegbusi Tobi and published by Brown Roof Studios, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan by Olivier Madiba and Georges Pondy and published by Kiro’o Games, Njoku created by Njoka Suyru and published by Zebra Comics PLC, Mulatako Created by Reine Dibussi and Totem created by Franklin Agogho and published by Zebra Comics PLC. These stories are all based on African mythologies. It is however interesting to note that each of these stories handle myths in peculiar ways. While some use myths to build modern day and even futuristic characters, others base their inspiration on the past and build from there to come up with interesting characters and scenarios.

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From the above, it is clear that mythology plays a predominant role in the creation of African comics, webtoon and manga. This helps to adequately pass across African philosophies, cultures and ways of life because these are deeply embedded in myths which are clear representations of African cultures and traditions. The aforementioned comics therefore provide a clear lens through which readers can have a deeper taste of what Africa is, even though myths are not the only pool from which African creators draw inspiration to create their comics.

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