9 December 2012

Nigeria: Lagos Brings Comic Alive

The first ever Lagos Comic Conference recently held at the Water Parks, Ikeja. Packaged into the event was a trade fair, featuring locally-produced comics.

According to the initiator and organiser of the programme, Ayodele Elegba, "We are trying to win back the comic culture in Nigeria with this programme. When I was much younger I used to read comic books and that was how I learnt to read. But now that I am an adult I discovered that people don't read anymore.

"In actuality, comic have pictures and letters, which is a very attractive means of luring our young people to read, which is one of my focuses."

He explained, "This is one of the ways to get people to read and show that there is a link between comic and all other genres of entertainment. For instance, comic is what is used to develop most of the children movies we watch today such as Spiderman, Superman, Fantastic Four and Scooby Doo among others."

He believes that Nollywood is suffering due to the limited number of comics involved in it. "Comics are very imaginative; they can draw and bring whatever is in their head into the papers. Now, if Nollywood can pick and use what is down on those papers they will have better films to produce."

He, however, argued that it would also increase employment rate in the country. "When there are comic, more people, who draw can earn more money and even be self-employed. Young stars, who read arts in schools, can also have a place, be assured of the future and more people will also want to read comic and draw for a living, unlike before."

Elegba blamed the failure of the art industry on most Nigerian parents; adding that they egg on their children, who have the flair for this, to abandon arts for sciences. "They believe in becoming doctors, scientists and engineers. But they forget that that child may never perform well in class like its mates."

The man, who is also known as the Dream Maker, has been one of the pioneers of indigenous comic books in Nigeria since 1990. "We revolutionised the comic world then with one of my friends, through that, so many people came into comic industry. I call myself a dream maker, because I try to bring any dream I have into life, reality."

He is a graduate of microbiology from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. But soon he realised his passion was for art so he pursued it. Now, he does graphics, comic and arts respectively.

Meanwhile, there was a trade fair as well as a discussion section, where people discussed and learnt about comic and how it relates with movie and to sound. That inspired them to buy some of the books of the artists.

"I must admit that there are challenges. It is not easy to resuscitate something though. I have organised a 24-hour-comic-day, where comics come to read comic books so they know what I can do and what I have done. But right here, you can get people who will buy your book and people who will be interested in your art. Therefore, it opens a lot of doors for you," he said.

Elegba stressed that it was high time Nollywood started practising story ball. "In abroad, before a story is shot the comic would be done so if the movie would be good or not you will know from the story, this provides employment opportunity for many artiste. Comic writers are more imaginative but I think Nigerian movies are still drama."

He, however, advised that the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, should invest in the comic industry from the entertainment fund.

According to one of the artists and Chief Executive Officer of Kory Arts, Korede Awofuwa, everyone knows the story in Nigeria that parents always dissuade their children from going into Art. "I studied mechanical engineering but soon discovered my flair was for arts not sciences. Today, I am making it."

Various young people gathered to see and buy some of the artists' products while some, who had always been interested in it, craved to go into it as they were inspired. In all, there were 25 comic writers, who displayed their wares and showed participants their potentials.

Many were surprised to know that Nigerians could do quality comics that they believed could reach international standards.

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