Comic Characters and Nigerian Pop culture. Who Tells Our Own Fantastical Tales?

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The popular story and the influential spread of comic series in the wide range of Marvel and DC Comics published works, has saturated from the Western communities and have become a part of the West African pop culture. The influence of Batman, the Spiderman, and more, play a huge role in influencing the consciousness of the new generation creators in different forms.

These comic characters heavy influenced the lives of Nigerian teens, giving way for a new crop of Nigerian creators to channel some of these influences through their art. Musicians have captured a slew of these characters on song lyrics, alongside a rapid name drop referring to themselves as heroes after their favorite characters. These set of creators show their affection and affiliate themselves with these characters, and how they love to adopt their peculiarity.

It’s important to note how creators have come to embrace a character’s significance, perhaps, they have found a close relationship, as well as draw inspiration from them. They may see these characters as points of reference to shared experiences. Rema’s most beloved super hero, Batman, similarly lost his Dad at an early age, Rema’s 2019 “Spider-man,” captures this reality. One macro example on a very wide spectrum.

I spoke to two visual creators about how deep the influence of comic characters go in their lives and their art.

Micheal Harrison, a 17-year old art lover shared how long his comic character influences have been materializing, and the characters he can often relate with. “I usually sketched characters while I was in Junior school, JSS2 specifically, I loved to watch the Justice League most especially and I also love the heroes, their superpowers, each peculiarity and their unique design. Like Superman, Batman and Green Lantern.”

Moses Jeremiah, a 25-year-old character designer and developer in a visual art company “Raptors” that focuses on comic character developments in ways which could tell the African story through comics. “These characters are developed on two basis which are fictional and how humans as well could relate with them.” He added, “When we develop the story of comic characters, we find experiences and a relatable story which people can relate with. We make the characters on this basis and allow it influence its demography.”

Africans are evolving to change the narratives in their spaces by using local characters to tell our stories, in hopes of creating deeper connections, and documenting our lives, albeit on a fantastical level.

Western comics characters have been playing a huge role in our culture, and in this time when African pop-culture is being sought out globally, nobody can tell the African story better than the African themselves.

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