Somto Ajuluchukwu: African comic culture

Vortex Inc is a Nigerian comics company that is aiming to change the perception of Nigeria through cartoons that reflect the local culture.

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Vortex Inc is a Nigerian creative content company, founded in 2015 by Somto Ajuluchukwu. The company's aim is to help change the perception of Nigeria and Nigerian culture through the medium of comic art. 

“Vortex Inc is a creative content company, keen on exporting African culture through comics and cartoons,” says Ajuluchukwu.

Ajuluchukwu had noticed a lack of diversity in the comics available when he was young. Kids in Nigeria grow up with Superman and Spiderman, but with very few heroes who looked like them or lived in cities that reflected everyday life in Nigeria. Vortex is trying to create a counterculture with comics that reflect the people and myths of Africa. 

“We’re trying to tell them that there are comics and cartoons that are more relatable to you. There are comics and cartoons that tell your story,” says Ajuluchukwu. 

The stories and characters created by Vortex exist within The Spirit Universe. Unlike Marvel and DC, where the plots are often based on science and technology, African tradition is more rooted in spirituality and the characters are therefore more inspired by religious beliefs than science laboratories. For example, one of their heroes – Strike Guard – is the reincarnation of an African deity and has the powers of thunder and lightening. 

The comics aren’t only important for helping change the perception of Nigeria. History isn’t a subject in the Nigerian national curriculum, so it is through stories and comics – like the ones produced by Vortex Inc – that Nigerian children can learn the myths and legends of their homeland. 

Ajuluchukwu says that the biggest challenge faced by Vortex in Nigeria is that of funding. Investors, he says, keep looking for new tech companies to invest their money in, instead of looking for creative content. But now is the time for creative content.