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DC Announced as an Official sponsor of Virtuous Con

Virtous Con

Virtuous Con has announced that international comic book publisher DC is an official sponsor and virtual vendor of the virtual convention launching live worldwide on February 20 and 21 along with several new special guests. Including Eisner Award-winning artist Alitha Martinez (World of Wakanda, Immortal Wonder Woman)​ and Robyn Smith (Wash Day, NUBIA: Real One)​ , who will both join previously announced guest, award-winning writer L. L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, Immortal Wonder Woman, NUBIA: Real One)​ on the panel “Nubia is Back! The DC Storytellers who reintroduced Wonder Woman’s Sister”. ​ Live host and culture journalist ​Karama Horne (SYFYWIRE, theblerdgurlLIVE, NERDIST)​ will moderate the panel.

Founded by award-winning science fiction writer Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con: Black History Month will feature indie artists and exhibitors in a live interactive virtual space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, comic books,
anime and more.

Martinez, Smith and Horne will join previously announced guests YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic​), artist, editor and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), writer and H1 imprint co-founder Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK, Ignited) and Nigerian comic creator and founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika).

February will not be Virtuous Con’s premier convention. Murphy successfully beta-tested the event in October 2020 with a small group of attendees and vendors on the Remo platform, customized to support the convention. Virtuous Con still has a few tables left for vendors, but programming space is limited. For details about vending, panels, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit https://virtuouscon.com/.

Dark Horse Will Publish YouNeek Studios’ Comics

Since 2012, Roye Okupe, has been building a universe of superheroes that spans centuries centered around African stories, crafted by African creators. Okupe’s YouNeek Studios graphic novels have joined Dark Horse as part of its’ publishing line.

Dark Horse will be publishing the entire line of previously self-published stories, along with never-before-seen bonus material starting with Malika: Warrior Queen, Iyanu: Child of Wonder, and E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, and continue onward into new and never-before-seen stories.

In Malika: Warrior Queen, Malika inherits the crown from her father, but in the process the kingdom of Azzaz is split in half. After years of civil war, Malika finally unites all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa—but expansion will not come without its costs. Malika: Warrior Queen arrives September 7 2021.

Iyanu: Child of Wonder, the tale follows a teenage orphan with no recollection of her past. Suddenly Iyanu discovers that she has abilities that rival the ancient deities told in the folklore of her people. It is these abilities that are the key to bringing back an “age of wonders,” and Iyanu must begin her journey to save a world on the brink of destruction. Iyanu: Child of Wonder Volume 1 arrives September 21, 2021.

E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Volume 1 is an Afrofuturist superhero story about redemption set in the bustling metropolis that is Lagos, Nigeria. Wale Williams, who moonlights as the tech savy superhero E.X.O tries to save the city from a deadly group of emerging extremists, but first he must save himself. E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Volume arrives October 19, 2021.

Founded by Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con: Black History Month Launches in February!

Virtuous Con

Virtuous Con, a brand new virtual comic book convention series, announced several special guests today for Virtuous Con: Black History Month going live February 20 and 21, 2021. The announcement featured on the Virtuous Con
website included several award-winning artists and writers, including YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic​), artist, editor and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), author and activist L.L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, NUBIA: Real One), writer and H1 imprint co-founder Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK, Ignited) and Nigerian comic creator and founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika).

The virtual venue will feature Indie artists and exhibitors in a live interactive virtual space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, comic books, anime and more. Complete with virtual “booths” for vendors to interact live with attendees about their products and interactive panels. Also, live programming, where the audience can watch and interact in real-time discussions, as opposed to pre-recorded Youtube or Zoom links.

Virtuous Con also happens to be founded by an African-American woman. Cerece Rennie Murphy, a science fiction author (The Order of the Seers ​ and The Wolf Queen), entrepreneur, is no stranger to conventions. An avid comic con attendee herself, she was already immersed in the speculative lit space with her indie scifi website Narazu. Murphy created Virtuous Con out of a need to help many of her creative colleagues and friends whose businesses were adversely affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns. Especially BIPOC creatives.

February will not be Virtuous Con’s maiden voyage. Murphy successfully Beta tested the event in October 2020 with a small group of attendees and vendors on the Remo platform, which she customized to support the convention. Currently, Virtuous Con is offering an early bird discount to vendors who sign up by 1/22/2021. For details about vending, special guests, and sponsorship opportunities, visit the convention website.

Review: Malika: Warrior Queen Part Two

Claire Foy’s transformation as Queen Elizabeth in the Crown is something to see if you have never watched the show on Netflix. Her performance is one of those chameleon-like, where you wonder if that really is her voice, and at least for the next few years, people only think of her as this one role. The series also stands out in how it’s told. The “palace intrigue” moves the series. It’s what makes their history so interesting as many of the people that surrounded her had ulterior motives. She is one of the most recognizable examples of royalty.

The pressures of running a country is a lot for most people but having to do that and being part of royalty, is almost impossible to do. I always wondered how it would be for a monarch when she was also a warrior? The second volume of Malika, Warrior Queen explores that as enemies abound everywhere looking to take Azzaz from Malika, something she has spent a lifetime building.

As Malika takes her place among her people, a scene right out of Game Of Thrones, occurs leaving the royal court in shock, while we lose a beloved character, a once thought long dead character reappears from the shadows, one Malika is frozen in shock over. The Savior od Azzaz and her army unleash a palace siege as they look to take over the castle, one Malika barely survives and must flee to fight another day. We are introduced to the Olon Jin, an ancient group of gods, who are tasked with guarding relics, and know that Malika is the one true queen. This is where the reader is treated to a series of flashbacks, as to what happened to out mysterious intruder and the sometimes-volatile relationships that govern parents and children. Meanwhile, Meng has gotten wind of the upheaval that has taken place in Azzaz, as this may prove to be an opportunity for his army to conquer the prosperous kingdom.

To take back the kingdom, Malika must find an ancient sword with immeasurable power, one that she wielded before, but his time, she needed more than ever. Back in Azazz, the new ruler proves ruthless and heavy handed, showing no mercy and not caring for the consequences that come out of it, even staging a public execution. A final battle ensues which leaves Malika victorious but not without the cruel hand of fate intervening. By book’s end, an unforeseen beginning for the Warrior Queen awaits.

Overall, a powerful ending to major chapter of an incredible hero, one that readers will continue to gravitate to , for years to come. The story by Roye Okupe is action packed, layered and one that readers will not soon forget. The art by the creative team is simply gorgeous. Altogether, a book that feels like an ending for many reasons but is more a rebirth for so much more.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Mohammed Agbadi,
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Part Two

Fear of technology is one of those themes that Isaac Asimov, mastered in his time. In I Robot, the dangers of artificial intelligence are explored and also how it affects human life.  Daniel Wilson, also explores the capacity of robots and how fearful we should be of artificial intelligence in Robocalypse. Both stories, makes one question how much we need technology and just how smart do we need artificial intelligence to be.

Naturally, where technology propels so does the military industrial complex, as can be seen by the mass production of drones. As this industry is usually light years ahead of private industry, they tend to take advantage of technology that the world gets used to. This effect twofold, as technology improves lifestyles it also becomes more evasive, as those same drones were used for military missions now they are also used to spy on neighbors. In Part Two of Sage One of EXO: The Legend of Wale Williams, the dangers of technology is explored even more as, we catch up with our heroes shortly after Wale and Rotimi both suffer injuries form their last battle with CREED.

In the first few pages, we catch up with Fury as she is on mission to retrieve data, so she knows exactly what Prytek and CREED are up to.  We also catch up with Wale, as he recovers and learns more about the EXO suit, as there are some hidden features that he had no idea the suit had. We also catch up with Rotimi, as the cyber genetics he gets equipped with, gives him a weapon that can help him in his fight with CREED. By book’s end, a final battle royale between our heroes and CREED ensues, leading EXO using his full powers and though they are victorious, a new villain gets unearthed.

Overall, an excellent conclusion to a story that reveals more about the villain than it does about the heroes. The story by Roye Okupe is a fun science fiction thriller, that shows what a hero should be made of. The art by Sunkanmi Akinboye is gorgeous and vibrant. Altogether, a fun ride that everyone will want to get up on.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams Vol. 1

Afrofuturism is one of those genre/subjects that has been getting a lot of love as of recent. In the latest trailer and movie stills from the upcoming movie for Black Panther, much of the world is getting to know exactly what Afrofuturism, means and what fans of Black Panther like myself have known for years. The concepts and characters that were introduced in Black Panther’s mythology showed to only an advanced view of technology but also of diversity. This is not to say that there were not some storylines that had some problems and as well as some characters that looks more like some stereotypes.

Unfortunately, not too many characters, unless it is from publishers in Africa, have been written about Afrofuturism in Africa, unless one counts the last take on the Unknown Soldier.   There have been American takes on Afrofuturism like Mr. Terrific and many of the characters from the Dakota Universe. Other than these examples, this has been a scarcely explored genre, which a treasure trove of possibilities that many creators are afraid or lazy to explore. So, when I found out about E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale Williams, I was thrilled.

The reader is taken to 2025 Lagos, Nigeria, in a technologically advanced society where technology is used to commit crimes and the police are at a disadvantage against smarter criminals. This is where the reader is introduced to EXO, a superhero who questions whether he is the answer. We are given his complicated backstory, one that has echoes of tony Stark, but smarter and with a direct moral compass.  Before the end of this volume, he not only has to contend to dirty politics, rising crime, a few new allies but a supervillain, that may spell doom for Exo.

Overall, a beautiful portrait of how the world, especially in Nigeria, will look in the future, and how diverse heroes can be just as good or even better than the vanilla ones the comic book world has been flooded with. The story by Roye Okupe is engaging, action packed and provides enough twists and turns. The art by Sunkanmi Akinboye thrives and delivers as many punches as the story does. Altogether, a great book that should not be missed and will have the reader tuning in for the next episode.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Malika: Warrior Queen Part One

When John Campbell’s book, “The Hero’s Journey”, is brought up in conversations on television and in lectures, it usually talks about male characters. The most prominent example that is brought up is Odysseus, as his journey which took many years, not only formed him as a hero but also a man, thus the hero’s journey. Another popular example, is of course, Luke Skywalker. Rarely, in these conversations, are a female protagonist, have ever been brought up.

There have been more than few characters that stand out in my mind in just about all forms of media. In To Kill a Mockingbird, although Atticus Finch, is the hero, Boo, is just as a strong a character, and almost even more integral to the plot. On TV, probably one of its most popular shows, Orange Is the New Black, is a story full of strong female protagonists, which initially focused on one the first season but ultimately expanded into just about all the characters’ stories being explored. This brings me, to one of the most interesting characters I have read in a long time, Malika, Warrior Queen.

In the opening moments of the book, we are introduced to a young lady training for battle in the city of Azzaz, little do we know, she would become the Queen of this empire. At her doorstep, is an army from the Ming Dynasty, looking to take her lands and enslave her people. She is joined by an old friend, who is known to his foes as the Windmaker, as he proves to more than just an ally, leaving her foe decimated. By the end of this volume, our heroine has gained victory but her troubles have not ended with the whisperings of evil in the form dark magic nearby.

Overall, a strong volume to a character will want to know, as this heroine is like nothing anyone has ever seen before, with traits that most writers would only give to a male protagonist.  The story by Roye Okupe feels like those 70s sword sagas and has all the grit of Conan. The art by Godwin Akpan, Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Paul Louis-Julie, Osas Asemota, Omotuyi Ebota and Collins Momodu, is pretty, lush, and masterful. Altogether, a great introduction, to a female hero that the world has always needed.

Story: Roye Okupe Art: Godwin Akpan, Chima Kalu, Raphael Kazeem, Paul Louis-Julie, Osas Asemota, Omotuyi Ebota and Collins Momodu
Story:10 Art:10 Overall:10 Recommendation: Buy

YouNeek Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

YouNeek Studios Announces Windmaker: The History of Atala

Windmaker: The History of Atala is one part art book, one part prequel that pulls from the amazing depths of African mythology, turning the fantasy genre on its head by placing familiar concepts in an awe-inspiring African setting.

YouNeek Studios, the Maryland based transmedia company, is proud to announce the release of their first art book, WindMaker: The History of Atala – The Art of the Book Series, which will be the newest addition to the YouNeek YouNiverse. This will be a limited edition (500 copies) Hardcover print run, so grab the collectors item while they’re still available!

Coming off the hit graphic novel: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams (Parts One & Two), which was featured on CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more, WindMaker: The History of Atala will be the first art book in the continuity of a shared universe of graphic novels called the “YouNeek Youniverse.” Dubbed “The MCU of graphic novels,” the YouNeek YouNiverse is a combination of individual graphic novel series (E.X.O., Malika, WindMaker etc.) tied together with one continuous, overall plot that weaves through each
individual story.

Inspired by African history, WindMaker: The History of Atala (Hardcover) is one part art book, one part prequel story to both the Malika: Warrior Queen and WindMaker: Return of a King graphic Novels. Pulling from the amazing depths of African mythology, Roye Okupe, writer of the hit graphic novel series E.X.O., creates a breathtaking kingdom called Atala. With this art book, he sets the foundations for what is definitely a deep and meaningful universe (The YouNeek YouNiverse) of heroes. Illustrator Godwin Akpan’s painting breathes life into the story in an amazing way. From dragons, to mythical relics, a feuding royal family and magical swords, this book turns the fantasy genre on its head by placing familiar concepts in an awe-inspiring African setting.

Don’t forget to pick up our next title Malika: Warrior Queen at your local comic book store May 6 during Free Comic Book Day!

Listen to Roye Okupe Discuss E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams, a superhero story set in a futuristic 2025 Africa, follows Wale Williams, an impetuous young adult who inherits a suit with super powers after his father goes missing. Tricked into returning home to Lagoon City, Nigeria following a five year absence, Wale embarks 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.

On this episode of Graphic Policy Radio, we discuss the comic series with creator Roye Okupe.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Okupe is a creative specialist who holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science from The George Washington University. His passion for animation led him to found YouNeek Studios in 2012, an avenue that would allow him pursue his dream of creating a diverse library of superheroes. Under that umbrella, Roye wrote, produced and directed several animated productions including, but not limited to, 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. These productions have allowed Roye to attain much prestigious recognition such as being #5 on Ventures Africa’s list of 40 African innovators to watch.

Roye Okupe Discusses E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams LIVE this Monday

exo-waleE.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams, a superhero story set in a futuristic 2025 Africa, follows Wale Williams, an impetuous young adult who inherits a suit with super powers after his father goes missing. Tricked into returning home to Lagoon City, Nigeria following a five year absence, Wale embarks 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.

On this episode of Graphic Policy Radio, we discuss the comic series with creator Roye Okupe.

Listen to the show LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Okupe is a creative specialist who holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science from The George Washington University. His passion for animation led him to found YouNeek Studios in 2012, an avenue that would allow him pursue his dream of creating a diverse library of superheroes. Under that umbrella, Roye wrote, produced and directed several animated productions including, but not limited to, 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. These productions have allowed Roye to attain much prestigious recognition such as being #5 on Ventures Africa’s list of 40 African innovators to watch.

With the superhero genre currently at the height of popularity, Roye has made it a goal to create a connected universe of heroes, with origins from locations that are currently neglected and/or ignored. In August 2015, Roye released his debut graphic novel titled: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part One, a superhero story set in a futuristic Nigeria. E.X.O. was received with critical acclaim and has since been featured on CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, NBC, The Guardian, ABC7, BBC, The Huffington Post, Mashabe and more!

Listen in and Tweet us your questions @graphicpolicy.

Listen to the show live this Monday.

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