Could Wale Williams be Nigeria's new superhero?

Lagos-born digital animator Roye Okupe releases his afrofuturistic graphic novel based entirely on African characters.

As a boy, digital animator Roye Okupe grew up idolising the invincible heroes of classic Western comic books, such as Batman, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Spiderman. Now, with the help of Kickstarter funding, he has created his own graphic novel with an African Superhero, Wale Williams.

The comic book series, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, revolves around a young Nigerian man who returns to his Lagos-inspired hometown to investigate the dissapearance of his father – a great inventor. He arrives home to find one of his father’s creations – a special suit that gives him the superpowers he needs to take back the city from corrupt tyrannts, rebels and robots.

Before the launch on Kickstarter, Okupe pitched the African graphic novel to numerous producers and distributors in America, only to be turned away. “I had someone say to me ‘no one’s going to watch anything based on African characters.’ I had a producer tell me that point blank,” said Okupe.

“I grew up watching Superman, not because he was fighting in Metropolis in America, but because I could connect to the story. I was just a kid from Africa. So why can’t the reverse be true? Why can’t I create an African superhero that everyone can connect to.”

Despite the rejections, Okupe believed that the lack of diversity within the genre was something to address and so did the 228 backers who helped make the novel a reality.