EPOCH COMICS: Exclusive Interview Part 2 - The New Era of African Comic Books & Movies

Part 2 of our interview with Epoch Comics artist/creator Martin Okonkwo and other members of his team, in our series showcasing top African comic book creators and creations ripe for series and film.

Interviews Opinion

If you have not read the first part of our interview, CLICK HERE. We continue our conversation with Martin Okonkwo, the co-founder of the African comicbook studio, Epoch Comics, and joining with us today, also are two of his top writers and artists.

JC-Nova

A musician, martial arts practitioner, and fiction writer, J.C. Nova has always been an enthusiast of art forms. An author with about four published books, he joined the Epoch team and has been the writer on the AEGIS comic series and, more recently, REMNANTS. Apart from writing, J.C. is passionate about family, financial freedom, technology, and video games, and a reader of his works soon finds out that they are heavily laced with these themes. His core genres are thriller, action, and fantasy, and more recently, he has been dabbling in Afrofuturism. Outside of work, he lives with his wife and kids in Canada, plays music under the name of XTsamurai, and is a lover of tea, meaningful conversations, and long walks.

chika

Also with us today is the co-founder of Epoch Comics, Chika Emmanuel Ezeabiama. He is a photographer, videographer, comic book creator, and creative director. He is the creator and writer of Epoch comics titles that includes MOONDUST, BARIKISU, TEEN ANGELS, THE SERAPH, THE PROPHECY, and AEGIS.

James (CBM): So, in our last interview, Martin, you touched upon the Epoch Universe and ‘Extra-Naturals’. Can you dive more into the characters and titles?

cover2

Martin: “Well, let us start with The Gatekeepers. They are a special category of Extra-Naturals. They exist in the same Epoch Universe, but their stories occur in the past or future. They are regarded as the gatekeepers because they are placed at strategic points in time to ensure that history plays out according to the Overlord’s script. Four titles fall under this category: REMNANTS, DINTA, PTERYGOTE, and THE PROPHECY."

Epoch-Dede-Philips-Son

"AEGIS is a supernatural series that centers on Dede, a man caught in a battle between two realms and who is on a journey to find himself - while fighting for his life and that of someone he loves. He finds, very quickly, that "the things which are seen are made of things unseen".

Aegis
Epoch-Barikisu

"The BARIKISU series is about a young lady, in modern day Kaduna, Nigeria, who possesses amazing powers and comes from the lineage of the great Warrior Queen, Amina of Zaria who died defending her bloodline from the evil Mayakinyaki. Barikisu is still faced with the same enemies and the same task, hundreds of years later."

Barikisu

"MOONDUST is the story of Kazeem Oladapo, a student at New York University who gains superpowers in a very generic way, but there are more layers to the occurrences than are immediately obvious and more to this story than meets the eye."

Epoch-Moon-Dust

James: How do your characters stand out over the competition?

Martin: “The fact that there are multi-layers to the stories and back-stories of our characters and that there is a supernatural undertone, even to the most unassuming of our titles, stand them out from the crowd."

James: Which of your titles would you love to see most on the big screen as a movie?

Martin:AEGIS is the title that I would most like to see come to the big screen. It is our most awarded comic title, with about 5 awards in the bag. It is the title that most vividly portrays what Epoch Comics is all about. The message of AEGIS is almost non-fictional because those who look very closely can relate to it and it is an aspirational story. It is a story of growth and survival; it examines the struggles that every single human being on earth faces or have faced at some point in life. It reveals the parallel between two plains of existence and the interaction that plays out between in the inhabitants of both realms. It would make a great blockbuster."

"We also seek to put Africa on the comic map by showcasing the kind of quality that has never been associated with the continent and that can compete favourably on the global stage."

"We are building a brand that will change the narrative about Africa and Africans and present us as a people of beautiful heritage, rich culture and strong positive values.”

James: J.C., can you share more about how you got involved with comic books? How old were you?

J.C.: “I remember selling my firsthand-drawn comic book in the 7th grade. So, I’ve always loved drawing and comics, especially coming from a family where we were taught to read very early and read a ton! Comics are generally easy to read; we all grew up on picture books. So, if you have a good story and good art, it makes for really attractive comics.”

James: And what attracted you to join Epoch?

J.C.: “Epoch has always had really strong artists, very interesting characters, and stories with so much potential! Epoch also presented an opportunity to add Afrocentric spice to the global comics space, which is predominantly Asian (Manga) and North America (e.g., MCU).“

“So, with my love for comic, close friendship with Martin and Eze and the overall direction of Epoch, I found myself right at home when I was asked if I wanted to contribute by being part of the Team.“

“I started writing for Epoch from AEGIS part 3, Sheol’s Gate, and to get nominated for Best Writer for that issue at the Lagos Comic Con was kind of a big deal. Check out this article here.

James: How about you, Chika?

Chika: “I have always loved comics since I was a child, did some little illustrations myself...reading comics and watching animations /cartoons growing up was my thing. Some of my favorite comic writers include Stan Lee, Jim Lee, Alan Moore, and Jerry Siegel.”

James: Tell us more about your art and writing styles. Any influences?

J.C.: “When I write for Epoch, I find I’m more toned down because of our target demographic. We’re talking adults and teens, so while we want to have really catchy stories, the team is very big on being as “clean” as possible.”

“That said, my style is generally heavy on suspense, dark, and very fast-paced; I’m trying to deliver dopamine as quickly as possible but tell a story that makes sense - and keeps you glued to the pages. Lol. I’m a fan of Stephen Kings and Ted Dekker, and some say you can see some of their influence in my style.”

Chika: “About my style, what I do now is mostly the creation of Epoch comics characters and scripting out their story...I love stories and writers like George R. R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie fascinate me.”

James: When you look at movies from Marvel and DC, what would you do in your cinematic universe that would differentiate Epoch Comics?

Martin: “The Marvel and DC companies owe their continued existence to the cinematic facets of their universes or multiverses as the cases may be. The advent of superhero movies to the big screen have sustained the industry in no little way. Today there is a push for inclusivity and proper representation and so we see a more diverse cast line up for these movies. Some characters that were previously white in comics now turn out black in the movies examples Kingpin in the earlier DareDevil movie, Human torch in the last Fantastic 4 movies, Starfire, Nick Fury etc. We are even seeing an increase in Lead Roles played by talent of colours across the spectrum, like Shang-Chi, Ms Marvel, SpiderMan Into the Spiderverse with Black Panther and its current sequel being the most notable examples because of the public frenzy and critical acclaim that has resulted.”

“For us at Epoch, inclusion does matter, however we are more focused on authenticity to go along with it because an African story told primarily by native Africans has a genuineness to it than if it’s told by non-Africans or non-native Africans.”

“We are also pushing authenticity in the quality of our message. We are not just telling exciting stories for the sake of it, we are presenting life-altering facts that can literally change the world if embraced.”

You can visit the Epoch Comics website at www.epochstudios.co/comics. Their comic books are also available on Amazon and Comixology. You can also download the House of Comics mobile app and read all their comic books for free. Follow @epochcomics on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

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