Also known as Dreammaker, Ayodele Elegba is the founder of the Lagos Comic Con and the CEO of Spoof Animation. In addition to him being an entrepreneurial creative, he is quickly becoming a leading figure in Nigeria’s growing entertainment industry. Wanting to learn more about his career, his comic books, and his thoughts on entertainment in Nigeria, I was able to interview Elegba for ScifiPulse.
You can learn more about Elegba by following him on Twitter at @ayodreammaker.
Nicholas Yanes: When did you know that you wanted to write comic books for a living? Was there a specific moment that crystallized this moment for you?
Ayodele Elegba: I always wanted to write for comics. But when it seemed that no one was going to hire me to write for comics here in Nigeria I had to settle for writing for television and film. Back then I didn’t have the internet and social media like you have now where you could send your manuscript directly to marvel or DC. It was much later while after secondary school that I met some great folks who also wanted to make comic books that I realized, I didn’t need to wait for someone to pay me to write comics, I can go ahead and write my own stories.
Yanes: You are from Nigeria and you are the founder of the Lagos Comic Con. Could you take a moment to discuss what the comic book and entertainment culture is like in Nigeria?
Elegba: The entertainment culture is quite reach here in Nigeria. The music and film industry is very well developed. The comic culture however is undergoing a revival after it went into a coma sometimes in the eighties. But since the Lagos Comic Con began 7 years ago we have seen a huge revival and love for comics again. Not only that, but Nigerians now want to make their own comics with characters depicting their joys and their struggles. Now we have several Nigerian comic titles and studios also boasting of creators who can compete internationally with their work.
Yanes: On this note, how much of it is influenced by popular culture from other countries versus how much is uniquely Nigerian?
Elegba: As you know, the comic medium was fully developed into what we know today by the west so in that respect, most comics here are heavily influenced by the super-hero idea and mythos. However, a few comic titles have tried to break that mold and create a new genre of African heroes and that seem to be catching on of late.
Yanes: You also live in Paris, France. What are your overall thoughts about France’s comic book culture?
Elegba: France has a rich culture of comics. And I mean indigenous French comic titles with a strong following. They have their own comic festivals that have thousands in attendance. Hopefully one day in Nigeria, we will embrace comics not just as an entertainment medium but a tool to pass down history, culture and the African tradition.
Yanes: Two of your recent comics for Spoof are Vantage and Boxsa. What are the inspirations behind these titles?
Elegba: First of all let me say I like building my stories on basic emotions every human being go through.
So for Vantage, I just wanted something away from the usual. Nigerians are quite romantic and I wanted a hero who would fight for love. The love of his life, so I came up with the story of a man Dawal Yinusa, who is forced to becomes a hero when his fiancé is suddenly abducted shortly after their traditional introduction ceremony. So the story is about Vantage searching for his “wife” and in his journey he discovers the dirty, corrupt system in the police and politics.
Boxsa is also about love, but in this case, love for family and the struggle of a ghetto underdog boxer to prove himself worthy to his six-year-old daughter. In the process of making ends meet, Ismaila “Eazy” kazeem aka Boxsa finds himself in the mix of the crime and corruption in the country. His choice to resign from his former life and embrace a world of peace and integrity pits him again the dark world he once formally served.
Yanes: What are your long term goals with Vantage, Boxsa, and Spoof’s other titles?
Elegba: We are currently working on a movie script for Boxsa and we will be shopping for executive producers soon. We hope like the Marvel movies did, will help bring more attention and sales for the comics. Other titles, like Voyager, have been adapted into an animation series and are looking for co-productions. And we are thinking of making Jinx into a TV series. We also hope to make these comic titles a house hold name and have the comics distributed and sold globally.
Yanes: In your experience, what is the process of getting your comic books into the hands of Nigerian readers? Do you sell them mainly as physical or digital items?
Elegba: It depends on what works for you. I mean your business model. Some studios give out their comics free online and in return have a subscriber based they can sell to advertisers. However, we have maintained that our comics will not be giving out free and we are focusing on better ways of selling the comics to our fans both here in Nigeria and the diaspora.
Yanes: When people finish reading your stories, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Elegba: Well it depends; every comic we create at Spoof has their own theme and message we hope to pass. But generally, for all our comics, we want you to feel that this is African and whatever happens within this pages can be believed and not an import from the west. Authentically African we like to call our comics.
Yanes: Finally, what are you working on that people can look forward to?
Elegba: I think what fans can look forward is our creator owned platform where more creators can use the Spoof platform to tell their stories. Meaning we want to help others publish their comics under the Spoof imprint. I meet a lot of creator who have great ideas but aren’t ready for the hassles that come along with publishing so that’s really in focus now. Also, for our Boxsa movie, we are thinking of a kickstarter campaign but we are still working on all of the options of getting out Nigeria’s first Super Hero movie.
Remember, you can learn more about Elegba by following him on Twitter at @ayodreammaker.