The Five Most Popular African Comics Characters

Popular African Comics Characters on the Zebra Comics Blog

In the world of entertainment, especially in the domain of books and comics, one of the most difficult things to do is to determine which piece of content is the best. Best here could mean anything – best story, best art, best cover etc. Irrespective of what particular aspect of books or comics we are looking at, coming up with a “best of” list is always a daunting task. And why is it so? Well, the reason is simple; human beings have varying tastes and what appeals to one man may be complete thrash to another. Identifying what is better in any scenario where we need to compare two things or a set of things is therefore an entirely subjective affair. And this can cause many people to be more emotional than they should normally be. Ok, we get that, we will be careful with our list.

On a more precise note, this article focuses on the most popular African comics characters and not on the best. We guess it should be common knowledge by now that in this era of social media and smartphones with cameras, being popular is far from being the same thing as being the best. Still, in this case, there is bound to be some disagreement. This is especially true for African comics as getting access to data is usually difficult and so knowing for sure which comic is the best is always a difficult thing.

Nevertheless, for the sake of this article, we made use of a number of criteria which we think should provide a good idea on which African comics characters are most popular out there. Amongst these criteria are publication outlets, articles published on these characters or works where they exist, adaptation into other media like animation and following on social media. With these, we were able to come up with the following characters as the most popular as far as African comics are concerned.

1. Guardian Prime

Created by Jide Martin, CEO at the Nigerian Comic Book company, Comic Republic, Guardian Prime is the flagship character of this company that just celebrated its ten years of existence. Guardian Prime, whose real name is Tunde Jaiye, was born in Lagos, Nigeria,to Nigerian parents. He is the son of Danjuma Jaiye,a military general, and Evelyn Jaiye, a businesswoman. From a young age, Tunde has lived a sheltered life, but nevertheless,has always believed in being compassionate and protecting the weak. When he becomes an adult, he finds out that he is a Guardian. Guardians are special humans tasked with protecting the Human race, and they are ordained by Gaia, the Goddess of the Earth. Every 2000 years,a new guardian is born into the world.Depending on the state of the world, some guardians live out their entire lives without ever knowing who they really are, as their powers never manifest until they are needed most. With the world in turmoil and with his newfound powers and abilities, Tunde Jaiye sets out to save the world as Guardian prime.

As a superhero character, he is described in the Comic Republic series as “Man, the way his creator intended him to be” and “The fifth element, one of the five essential elements for life to exist on Earth (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Man-to stand guard over the others)”. He has invulnerability, super strength, flight, speed, enhanced senses, ability to intensify his body heat, and the ability to temporarily pass his invulnerability to any object he touches. Guardian Prime has immense strength. His notable feats of strength include carrying an Airbus aeroplane, ripping a helicopter into two, and he is so strong that he has even been seen as being able to carry an asteroid. Guardian Prime can fly at supersonic speeds, his most notable feat of speed is that he was able to fly from the sun back to the Earth in fifteen minutes. He can survive in space without the use of any breathing equipment. He can intensify his body heat and create fire. Gaia once said that he “can burn brighter than a blue star.

Thanks to the fact the company publishes its comics digitally on their website and android, fans across Africa and the world have been able to experience the exploits of this African comics character, making him one of the most popular African characters out there.

2. Malika

Created by Roye Okupe, Malika is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) female African comics protagonists of all time. Her story, Malika: Warrior Queen, is so intriguing that YouNeek studios, the comic’s publisher, was able to host several successful crowdfunding campaigns on kickstarter and make it possible for so many fans across Africa and the globe to experience her story.

Malika is the queen and military commander of the empire of Azzaz. She inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa. But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies began to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of one of the most feared superpowers the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attention to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people. Apart from being a master swordsman, Malika is a brilliant military strategist. And she was at her best with her cavalry unit. Led by their queen, the Azzazian cavalry is one of the most deadly military units ever.

Malika is so popular that the comic Malika: Warrior Queen has been published by Dark Horse comics. Fans can also find digital copies of the comics on the YouNeek Studios website.

3. Aya

Aya of Yop city is one of the most popular African comics out there. This is not just because of the fact that it has been adapted into an animated feature film, but also because the story is downright entertaining. Aya, the protagonist of the book,s a sweet and humble girl who is connected to every character in some way. Aya helps out the entire community in several ways. She is supportive of her friends and family and is always willing to help others. Although she is very young, the audience gets a glimpse of different problems and situations that are common in African culture through her.

Aya of Yop City is a series of seven bande dessinée comics written by Marguerite Abouet and drawn by Clément Oubrerie. The original French albums were published by Gallimard between 2005 and 2010. The first six volumes have been translated into English by Drawn & Quarterly. Although not entirely autobiographical, the story is based on the author’s life in Côte-d’Ivoire. Aya of Yop City is the second of three books in the Abouet’s Aya series, each based on the same characters. All three of the books in the series have been illustrated by the author’s husband, Clément Oubrerie. The authors adapted it for an animated film of the same title, which was released in 2013.

4. Shakes

Shakes is a fictional character and the main protagonist in the comic and TV series, Supa Strikas. He is the head striker in Supa Strikas FC, although this is often disputed by El Matador. Shakes is from Doha CIA CITY and grew up with his mom and sister, Nandi. He is the son of the previous football player for Supa Strikas, Jomo, who disappeared in Mt. Kilimanjaro when Shakes was young. Shakes was also friends with Spenza and Skarra, AND KING MALEK although his relationship with the latter later soured.

This exciting character brought a lot of flair, action and, consequently, entertainment to the Supa Strikas series. His charm and his wonderful football skills make him a fan favourite. Thanks to him, alongside other very interesting characters, the Supa Strikas comics knew great success and went on to be the greatest African comic book TV show adaptation of all time.

5. Ikei

Ever since the Zebra Comics App was launched in September 2022, there is one comic that has thrilled fans endlessly; that comic is KAWANA. Kawana is a romance and slice of life comic which mirrors the lives of university students and youngsters in a typical Cameroonian setting. And what makes this comic particularly intriguing is its protagonist – Ikei.

Ikei is a young, recalcitrant youngster who seeks love in the most questionable of places. By day, she is a university student and by night, she serves as an escort in chic hotels in the city of Buea. One may think that her involvement in such ‘scandalous’ activities is tied to her quest to satisfy her lack of financial resources. However, Ikei comes from a family that is a reference as far as wealth is concerned, so the inability to provide for herself is amongst the least of her problems. Why is she leading this kind of disastrous life then? Well, she is trying to fill a void, searching for a father’s love which is completely absent from her life. Throughout this comic, we see Ikei getting involved in one disastrous relationship after another, sinking deeper into emotional trenches which complicates her life even more.

Kawana was published on the Zebra Comics app and website and since then hundreds of thousands of people have read it, making Ikei, its main protagonist, one of the most popular African comics characters in  2023.

Yes, we know, there are many other characters who could make this list. It is worthy of note that the list was generated based on criteria stated above. Added to that, and as we already mentioned, getting adequate data about the performance of African comics is hard. Nevertheless, this list will continue to evolve as we get new data on African comics. For now, we assure you that the characters mentioned are great and worth checking out.

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