Is religion the stumbling block as to why the Nigerian comic industry doesn't have super heroes?
In the 80s, comic books from the Wale Adenuga production line Ikebe Super and Papa Ajasco & Company were popular on the newsstands along with Nackson from Lolly Magazine. It should be stated that these comics had sexual themes blended in humour.
When Nackson folded up and Wale Adenuga focused his creative efforts on TV, the comic industry was non-existent in the 90s.
In 2002, a new comic book industry hit the Nigerian market. It was called Super Strikas and it told the story of a young football player Shegs Okoro who had breathtaking skills and amazing talent.
Super Strikas had an instant impact and its success buoyed a mini-resurgence in the industry with indie comic books sprouting even though virtually all of them were short-lived.
The thought of comic books readily brings to mind the images of superheroes but no so in the Nigerian context. And herein lies the problem of Nigerian comic books besides distribution. Content.
Who is the Nigerian superhero who uses his power for good and fights for justice? Terror Muda, the swashbuckling Okada driver is not a superhero. Let's forget about Kaptain Afrika.
I have read a few Nigerian comics with superheroes who got their powers from science. The problem with this narrative is that Nigeria is not a technologically advanced country so creating a superhero who got his powers in a Nigerian laboratory isn't exactly believable.
Not all Nigerian comic superheroes get their powers from science. The mystic art is a common theme in many of the new comic books springing up in Nigeria. As real as this narrative herein lies the problem, the country we live in is very religious.
Many parents (especially those with Pentecostal leanings) would freak out if they see their kids reading a book about a boy with the powers of Amadioha or a young girl who is a reincarnation of Yemoja. Many Nigerians who are religious wouldn't be caught dead reading such a comic.
Slave trade and colonialism interrupted the culture of African societies. Africans abandoned their religions for Christianity. As a result of this, the modern day Nigerian views certain aspects of his culture as fetish and diabolic.
A celebration of heritage is misconstrued as worshipping of ancient gods. Ironically, as Nigerians are most likely to shun comic books with a theme of African mysticism, they would most likely queue to watch Thor- a god of Norse mythology.
The differences between Thor and Sango are few. Thor has a hammer and Sango has an axe. The two gods control lightning and thunder. Why is Thor celebrated and Sango seen as fetish?
It has to do with the brainwashing of Nigerians during the colonial era. Our mythology is seen as evil but we view Lord of Rings and Harry Potter as pure entertainment while neglecting the fact that these movies are also rooted in their respective mythologies.
This skew has affected how far Nigerian comic book stories can go in creating an authentic Nigerian superhero.
This is definitely a problem for the Nigerian comic book industry which would require creative writing and out of the box thinking before Nigerians embrace a super hero who brings out fire from his mouth.