“From the first day I laid my eyes on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons in the ’80s, I’ve been hooked on superheroes. Since then, I’ve watched, played and read every single superhero-related title I could lay my hands on movies, digital comics, manga, anime, graphic novels, comic books, superhero books, animated movies/series, video games and beyond. And then in 2008, after noticing there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the genre, I decided to tell a story about a hero from Nigeria. Hopefully, E.X.O. fulfills my goal of adding something unique to the industry” – Roye Okupe, Owner/Creative Director at YouNeek Studios
About Roye Okupe
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Roye Okupe is an author, speaker and entrepreneur whose passion for animation led him to found YouNeek Studios in 2012, an avenue that would allow him to pursue his dream of creating a diverse library of superheroes. Under that umbrella, Roye wrote, produced and directed several animated productions including, but not limited to, 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. These productions have allowed Roye to attain many prestigious recognitions such as being #5 on Ventures Africa’s list of 40 African innovators to watch (2016) as well as being part of NewAfrican Magazines’ 100 most influential Africans two years in a row (2016 & 2017).
With the superhero genre currently at the height of popularity, Roye has made it a goal to create a connected universe of heroes, with origins from locations that are currently neglected and/or ignored. In August 2015, Roye released his debut graphic novel titled: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part One, a superhero story set in a futuristic Nigeria. E.X.O. was received with critical acclaim and has since been featured on CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, NBC, The Guardian, ABC7, BBC, The Huffington Post, Mashabe and more! Roye’s sophomore graphic novel: Malika – Warrior Queen was also received with critical acclaim, selling more than 40,000 copies of its chapter one special during Diamond Comic’s Free Comic Book Day (2017). Both books have gone on to win several awards including a Glyph Comic Award (2017) and a Heruica Character Creation Award (2017).
Everyone loves the look, feel and smell of a minty new comic book fresh out of the store: Your fingers running over the glossy stock paper as you turn from page to page, staring at your hero while the visuals jump right off the page. For us, at least, there is no better feeling. In our opinion, print is here to stay. However, ignoring the rise of digital comics would be silly. With the emergence of Amazon’s Kindle platform and the rise of sites like Comixology, the comic book and graphic novel industry has opened itself to a slew of new consumers. Digital comic sales are going through the roof, and the format is an important part of the current media landscape.
Originally, we had the vision to release all our stories as animated movies. The superhero genre has its roots in comic books and graphic novels, and we felt we were skipping a crucial step. We decided to go back to the drawing board, starting from the ground up, both to build a fan base and to allow people to connect with our characters on a much deeper level, something we believe can only be achieved by releasing our stories as books first.
However, we still have goals of eventually releasing our IP as animated (and eventually live action) feature films and TV series. The long term goal is for the “YouNeek YouNiverse” to become a home for transmedia storytelling.