On October 16, Black Enterprise invited a group of comic book creators including Micheline Hess, Regine Sawyer, N. Steven Harris, Naseed Gifted, Tim Fielder, Dilettante J. Bass, George Carmona, Joseph P. Illidge, and Roye Okupe, to the BR headquarters in Manhattan to have a round table discussion about Black comic and Black comic book creators.The Blerd Gurl has posted up the live Periscope recording on her YouTube channel. You should check out the almost 30 minute video which is a fantastic group of individuals to hear talk comics.
Tag Archives: roye okupe
YouNeek Studios is bringing the graphic novel, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One to their fans. Malika will be a two part series, with part one (a 150-page book), due to be released Spring 2017. In the meantime, to launch the Malika Kickstarter, YouNeek Studios has released the first 20 pages (Chapter One) FREE
Set in fifteenth century West Africa, 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. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of ways, 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 has 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 attentions to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Roye 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.
The second volume of E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Willams dropped on August 24, 2016. This issue should be called E.X.O. “Revelations” because ALL of the questions from Volume 1 and even how the suit works are all answered in this book. Instead of releasing a series of 22 page comics, Roye Okupe once again gives us a 152 page volume (paid for from his second successful Kickstarter) covering Chapters 8-15. Wale’s character grows in this book with the help of Fury, the mysterious woman who appeared at the end of Volume 1. (And she kicks some serious ass in this book guys seriously). We also find out what actually happened to Wale’s father and what the E.X.O. suit was originally intended for.
Wale Williams is still after his nemesis Oniku who we find out is not just trying to destroy Lagoon City but to control most of Western Africa. Wale realizes with the help of Zahra (Fury’s real name) and her scientist father, that not only was Wale previously mentally unprepared to battle Oniku, he has not been utilizing the E.X.O. suit to its full potential. This go round, instead of taking on Oniku alone out of anger and revenge (that’s still simmering beneath the surface), Wale is more tactical and goes through extensive training in the suit and plans his attack with the help of a team. Scientist and medical doctor, Dr. Martins, Zahra, his cousin Benji and G.A.I., the interface within the suit. (Think African J.A.R.V.I.S.)
Oniku’s origin story is also revealed and as with most supervillians actually parallel’s Wale’s own need for revenge very closely.They are really two sides of the same coin in that Wale is out to save his own people and Oniku is beyond doesn’t think the people from Lagoon City are worth saving. Therefore he wants to destroy everything and rebuild “from the ashes” to save what he feels is the future of the country itself.
This volume actually concludes the First ARC of the E.X.O. storyline and introduces a new character that we will see in the future of another story tied to this universe.
What I think
Okupe’s writing here is more in depth this time around, however, at times, the story does get a bit dialogue heavy, but for the most part I enjoyed the character’s discussions, development and banter.
I LOVE Godwin Akpan’s cover work as well as the interior work by Sunkanmi Akinboye and Raphael Kazeem. Faces and colors stayed consistent throughout but there were a couple of times I felt some of the physiology was a bit off. That being said the fight scenes were AMAZING! The choreography, depth of field and angles were executed with exceptional detail and I was VERY impressed with how Wale’s interaction with the suit development was depicted. Many splash pages were also included of fan art of the book which I think was a wonderful homage to E.X.O. fans and a great way to showcase the work of otherwise unknown African talent.
I really enjoyed how the story played out and especially liked the use of the Yoruba language mixed into the English dialogue. One of my only criticism is that some of the practice/training sessions went on a little too long. I am also a big fan of “humanizing” the villain and making him look like the flip side of the hero, this was also executed well in this story. I absolutely LOVED Fury’s fight scenes and her character, but I wish we got to see more of her development and her drive and focus, at times I think she kind of came off as a 2-dimensional character for Wale to respond to. His cousin Benji was used well as the “everyman” plot device, helping to provide backstory and lightening up otherwise heavy moments in the book.
One thing that Okupe does very well is write cliffhanger endings, I actually read the entire book in one sitting because he kept ending each chapter with questions that I HAD to know the answers to. I was very surprised at the traumatic event (there’s two actually) that happened to Oniku because it is not one we often see here in the States, especially in a comic book, which is why I would really only recommend this volume to kids ages 12 and up.
This volume is a fun ride and definitely worth checking out. (Apparently, the Washington Post agrees)
E.X.O. THE LEGEND OF WALE WILLIAMS PART 2
WHERE TO BUY:
Writer: Roye Okupe
Penciler: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Inker: Sunkanmi Akinboye
Colorist: Raphael Kazeem
Cover Art: Godwin Akpan
Editor: Ayodele Elegba
NOTE: This is a high-quality indie TPB. The first African comic I’ve ever heard of Diamond distributing. If we want to see more books like this in comic book stores, then we have to pre-order them! Don’t know how to pre-order? Well I happen to have this handy guide right here.