“Comics are a growing concept in Africa, but growing at a faster rate than some would think.”
So says Eduvie Oyaide, head of marketing and communications at Nigerian online startup Comic Republic.
Launched in 2013, Comic Republic is dedicated to driving the growth of the African comic market, and has to date published seven titles and 16 episodes of its African-inspired comics, available online for free.
According to Oyaide, there is increasing demand from African readers for locally designed and inspired comic stories and characters; which have the power to better resonate with African readers.
“The comic industry has seen a rise in readers’ interest in African characters, especially those created by Africans,” she says.
“Readers in Nigeria appear pleasantly surprised when they see a Nigerian hero on the pages of our comic books and that joy alone is a sense of accomplishment for the team. Most Africans are forced to watch animations with their kids and it brings them joy to see their kids provided with characters that resonate with their culture.”
With this increasing demand in mind, Oyaide says the future of the African comic industry is “very bright”, and believes the industry presents a huge opportunity for investors willing to get ahead of the pack and involve themselves with African content now.
“Smart investors will need to tap into this soon. The rise in the desire to read African comics is a trend to watch. Africans are passionate, hardworking people and match that with skill – we are a force to watch out for,” Oyaide says.
While Oyaide believes in the potential of African comics, she says the startup is not content to be popular purely for the fact of being a local content producer – she says quality is key.
“We want the name Comic Republic to be synonymous to quality comics not just because it is African, but because it is good,” she says.
“Above all, we want our stories to be household names both here in Africa and around the world.”
This dream is not far from reach. Oyaide says Comic Republic has seen a sizeable following of US and UK-based readers.
She says through leveraging the internet and tech trends, African startups can speak to international audiences as well as local readers.
“The online space has been of tremendous support because it expands our reach and exposes our stories to viewers around the world. Surprisingly, when we kicked off, our books were read majorly by viewers in the US and the UK, those were the places we got our reviews,” Oyaide says.
“Thanks to the online space, barriers to increase your comic book publicity no longer exist. Now, we get requests from all around the world and distance does not stop us from our dream which is to share our stories to the world.”