Unleashing African Creativity: 4 Animated Adaptations Worth Checking Out

Animated adaptations of comic book stories have long been a staple of entertainment, with comic books and graphic novels often serving as inspiration for movies and television series. There has recently been a rise in interest in African comic books, some of which have made their way into the field of animation. In this article, we will take a look at four African comic books that have been animated or are in the process of being animated. These are a few we think are worth checking out.

1. Aya of Yop City

Aya of Yop City is a comic series written by Marguerite Abouet and drawn by Clément Oubrerie. “Aya of Yop City,” a beloved comic series about life in the 1970s Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, has been translated into 15 languages prior to its adaptation. The 7-volume series follows author Marguerite Abouet’s childhood memories of growing up in Yopougon, a working-class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Abidjan. The plot centres around Aya, a studious and clear-eyed 19-year-old, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their nosy relatives and neighbours.

The film’s release represented a successful blend of television drama and humour, garnering it a nomination for the French César Award for Best Animated Film in 2014. The first paperback edition of the comic was released in 2012, and the English version was first published in three hardback volumes by Drawn & Quarterly between 2007 and 2009. The first three books in the Aya series, titled “Aya of Yop City,” were also published in English and originally in French as volumes 1-3 of “Aya de Youpougon.”

“Aya of Yop City” is a fascinating and comical look into Ivorian life and culture, as well as a notable example of African comics breaking into the international market.

Aya of Yop City on the Zebra Comics blog

2. Iyanu: Child of Wonder

“Iyanu: Child of Wonder” is a comic book series as well as a forthcoming animated superhero epic television series based on Roye Okupe’s graphic novel series. It takes place in a magical version of Yorubaland, which was endowed with spiritual and  architectural marvels by the Divine Ones many years ago.

Iyanu is a young orphan with no memory of her past. She unexpectedly realizes that she holds latent abilities that rival those of the Divine Ones. These powers are essential for resurrecting the age of wonders and safeguarding the world from The Corrupt, an evil force out to destroy humanity.

The story follows Iyanu as she investigates the mystery of her unexpected abilities in order to save her people from an ancient curse that threatens to destroy civilization. The animated series will premiere on Cartoon Network and HBO Max in the United States in 2024. The graphic novel is set in a magical version of Yorubaland and is highly influenced by the Yoruba people of Nigeria’s history and achievements.

Roye Okupe, the founder/creative director of YouNeek Studios, created the series and serves as executive producer, writer, and director on several episodes.

Iyanu: Child of Wonder on the Zebra Comics blog

3. Supa Strikas

Supa Strikas is a pan-African comic book series with a football theme. It sold over 1.4 million copies per month in sixteen countries and was converted into a Malaysian and South African animated TV series. The story follows the Supa Strikas, the Super League’s top football club, as they embark on adventures throughout the realm of soccer in their quest to win the Super League trophy. Shakes, the team’s youngest striker, is widely regarded as the best striker in the world, but being the best is only the beginning for him and his colleagues. Self-actualization, fair play, teamwork, and respect are among the themes tackled in the comic and TV series.

The Harambee Stars football team, Kenya’s official football team, is said to have inspired the comic book series. Curiously, the character of “Coach” is based on a prominent Kenyan coach named Ghost Mulee, and the characters in the comic book series were also inspired by the legendary Kenyan footballers Odongo and Makena. Supa Strikas is a captivating comic book and TV series that has brought the world of soccer to life with humour, action, technology, and exploration.

4. Malika

Malika: Warrior Queen is a graphic novel based on the true story of 16th-century West African warrior Queen Amina of Zazzau. Malika, a Lagos-based production, depicts the narrative of the Queen and military commander of the Azzaz kingdom, who inherited the throne from her father in the most unlikely of circumstances. Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz after years of civil conflict, growing it into one of West Africa’s largest empires. Among her council, enemies began to emerge, and Azzaz drew the attention of one of the world’s most dreaded superpowers: the Ming Dynasty.

Malika’s film adaption debuted on YouTube in October 2019 following a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised USD 10,000 from 285 backers. Niyi Akinmolayan of Anthill Productions executive produced the series, which took three years to complete.

Okupe was inspired to create Malika by his goal to create a diverse library of superheroes. He desired to tell stories based on African history, culture, and mythology. Malika’s story takes place in fifteenth-century West Africa and includes fantasy tropes such as mystical treasures, a fighting royal family, and magical swords.

Malika on the Zebra Comics blog

With the increasing trend of African-inspired entertainment, African creators such as Zebra Comics, Comic Republic, Kugali Media, Waanda Comics, Spoof Animation and many others, are working hard to provide enough content to appeal to a broad audience. Many more will undoubtedly progress to animation as the industry expands. I hope you will visit the ones listed here as well as many others.

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