Nigeria’s Culture on Global Stage Through Animation, Iyanu: Child of Wonder
An animated version of the graphic novel “Iyanu: Child of Wonder” is set to be adapted by HBO Max along with Cartoon Network and Lion Forge Animations. Created by Roye Okupe and illustrated by Godwin Akpan, the superhero series explores Nigeria’s culture, music and mythology.
The series follows the story of a teenage orphan girl, Iyanu, who spends her days learning the history and ancient arts of the Yoruba people. Although she yearns for a regular life, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers while responding to a threat.
The show will see her join forces with two other teenagers as they set out on a trip to uncover the truth about the darkness that lurks around them. Iyanu will learn the truth about her background, family and her final destiny to save the planet.
Roye Okupe will write and direct multiple episodes while Saxton Moore, the Lion Forge head of production will act as supervising director. The writers’ room is led by Brandon Easton. Executive producers include Okupe, Doug Schwalbe, Carl Reed, Lion Forge’s David Steward II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital’s Erica Dupuis and Forefront Media Group’s Ryan Haidarian.
According to Variety, the green light of “Iyanu: Child of Wonder” is notable as it continues signalling the emergence of Africa as a player in global streaming. African titles made for older audiences are also beginning to cross over, such as Netflix’s South African drama “Blood & Water,” which debuted in 2020 and made Netflix’s Top 10 list in the U.S. Netflix also recently released “Blood Sisters,” the streamer’s first original series from Nigeria.
“When I set out to create ‘Iyanu’ for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” said Roye Okupe. “On top of that, working with Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, as our art director and collaborating with a thoughtful studio like Lion Forge Animation that prioritizes authenticity and diversity, is beyond belief.”
As art director on the project, Godwin Akpan told The Nollywood Reporter that amongst other things, he will be coming up with design briefs. He will also review and give feedback to other artists as well as proofcheck the character designs. “This is the first time I’ll be working as an art director for an animation so this is a very big deal for me. I feel really rewarded and hopeful for what’s to come.”