It’s 2025, the Lagoon City has been overrun by alarming skeletal drones and corrupt politicians, with the once prosperous city bearing little resemblance to what Wale Williams left five years before. A bigger problem compounded his confusion; Wale’s estranged but brilliant inventor father has disappeared. However, he inherits a suit with super powers that will help on a journey to investigate his father’s mysterious disappearance. As he comes to understand the suit’s powers, Wale realizes he must restore hope to his city by preventing catastrophic attacks from the sociopathic, Oniku, leader of an extremist group called The CREED.
E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams is a science fiction superhero comic about redemption, by Nigerian software and web developer Roye Okupe, who has spent the last several years trying to bring his dream of a homegrown hero to life.
At 17, Okupe moved to Washington, D.C., to study computer science at George Washington University. By 2012 he founded Youneek Studios and so was the birth of “E.X.O.”. The first part of the graphic novel was well received and Okupe is already raising funds to produce the second part.
Okupe is building a big brand out of his comic with T-shirts and cover posters already on sale, away from the graphic novel itself. He speaks to The Nerve Africa about his work, his challenges and the future of African comics.
On the inspiration behind The Legend of Wale Williams
I started E.X.O. for two main reasons. First of which was to finally step out and take a risk to make my dream come true. I have always had a dream to create a superhero from Nigeria where I was born and raised. The second reason was pride. I wanted to do something positive and inspiration for my country (Nigeria) and my continent Africa. When people see E.X.O. either animated on screen or read as a graphic novel, I want them to see a different side of Africa (our booming tech industry, amazing city architecture, unique culture, African humor, Afrofuturism etc. ), a side that is not regularly shown in mainstream media.
The Nigerian influence
Growing up in Nigeria greatly influenced my writing. The story is set in 2025 and Nigeria has experienced a long peaceful streak. Corruption has been severely reduced, the economy is booming and technology is at the fore front of everything. There is, however, a segment of people that are being oppressed. In the wake of progression it seems the poor are still getting poorer. And this begins to become more and more obvious. Because of this, the major issues (corruption, civil unrest etc.) that the nation has fought so hard to eliminate (with great success) starts to rear its ugly head again. And this is no more evident than in the rise of a new extremist group called The CREED. The CREED are led by a very intelligent but sociopathic ex-General called Oniku and he will stop at nothing to create unrest.
On the biggest challenge facing creatives and entrepreneurs
Financing. It has been very tough for me. Hence my decision to use Kickstarter. The first Kickstarter I was able to raise $10,000. [It has helped] tremendously. Without the Kickstarter(s) and the family, friends and strangers who have supported, my project will not be what it is today.
Thankfully it (Youneek studios) is going great. We aren’t as globally recognized as we would like to be, but we understand building a brand takes time, patience, persistence and consistence. The great thing is we are so far from where we were this time last year. So there’s a lot of progress.
Where he sees comics in Nigeria and Africa at large by 2020
A global sensation
What Africans should look forward to
More superhero stories (both via comics & animation) to come very soon 🙂