Roye Okupe, founder of YouNeek Studios, is doing his bit to reshape the African narrative by his creation of superheroes and graphic novels like E.X.O. and WindMaker. Now, one of his standout graphic novels Malika: Warrior Queen, which is set in 15th century Africa and features historical elements such as Timbuktu, The Songhay Empire, The Oyo Empire, and The Benin Empire, is about to be made into an animated series.
Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of Queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. According to the website, “growing up as a prodigy, Malika 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 begin 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.”
In an interview with OkayAfrica, Okupe says, “Everything we’ve achieved as a company and personally, everything I’ve worked on since quitting my job 3 years ago (to found YouNeek Studios) has led to this. From the get-go, we had our eyes set on animation. But the plan was to release our stories as graphic novels first. The focus was to create compelling and extraordinary characters and stories inspired by African history and culture, put out there for the entire world and slowly build our fanbase. And when we felt the time was right, add animated stories based on the books to what we’re already doing with the graphic novels. Now is that time.”
Okupe is currently running a Kickstarter for Malika: Warrior Queen in order to raise $15,000 for the production of its pilot episode.