With the global impact of MCU’s Black Panther film, as well as this year’s critically acclaimed The Woman King and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the public appetite for African-based and Afro-futurism stories has never been higher. But what is still missing is African and African-diaspora creators, especially comic book and graphic novel creators having their stories authentically told by the major studios and networks.
In this exclusive CBM series, we showcase top African and diaspora creators who are making characters and stories ripe for movies and shows.
This week, we interview Peter Chizoba Daniel, Creator and Founder of Peda Entertainment. If you like action, Game of Thrones-level fantasies, sci-fi, and mythology, you will love his unique, African-continent-inspired epic, genre-spanning multiverse of titles. Peter is a multiple award-winning creator, illustrator, and writer. He has been named top 3 illustrators in Nigeria for his award-winning title, his first story published, THE CHRONICLES OF THE NEWBORN: RISE OF THE MLEZI , which has been featured in African and international press including AFROPUNK and Bleeding Cool. He also received the prestigious Glyph award for producing the best new dramatic comic book in 2019 regarding the struggles of youth with albinism in African society, UNDER THE SUN.
His graphic novels and comic books have been selling out at comic cons in the U.S., even receiving admiration from top acting talent including Giancarlo Esposito.
James (CBM): Tell us about you, what led you to create comic books and launch Peda Entertainment as a studio?
Peter: “I enjoy making comic books. I love drawing. I love art. I have been making comics since I was a kid, so you know, it has been a very wonderful journey for me.
As a kid, it was my favorite pastime – when home after schoolwork, on holidays, I drew the characters of western comic books which I read and devoured.
Growing up, I enjoyed the beautiful adventures I got from these mediums of comic books, video games, and cartoons. But something was missing. I didn’t see my African heritage, culture, history, and people who looked like me in these stories.
Later in my life, I realized I had to do this. Parents, you know, want you to become a doctor or lawyer or engineer, but sometimes people are different. I discovered I had a talent for drawing and storytelling, this is my passion. I am fascinated with creativity.
I wanted to see African history, culture, and mythology in video games, comic books, and animation. So, I felt, the fastest way I could bring this to life was to start with the medium of comic books. The first story I created was CHRONICLES OF THE NEWBORN: RISE OF THE NLEZI. I had to draw the first issue myself. It took me a year for a 28-page book!
There was no one else I knew at the time doing stories reflecting African cultural and historical legacies. I love Viking stories for example, which showcase the wonderful cultures of the Nordic region. But I wanted to see African culture and stories in comic books and decided to make them popular for global mass consumption. I created a platform to make it possible to see myself in these stories. As the saying goes, if you want anything done you have to do it yourself.
People have the perception, ‘oh, comic books are easy to draw’, but that is not true. It takes lots of work, a lot of time and expense to make a quality release. Even to launch such a company takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication.
Regarding the name of our studio, pronounced ‘Pey dah’, everybody thinks it comes from my name Peter Daniel, but, about 8 years ago, it was registered and formed by me and 3 of my friends, so Peter, Eddie, Dary, and Ado. But because everyone had different visions and a different path, it ended with just me, so I guess it became more related to my name.”
James: What comic books, writers, and artists were your favorites growing up and also your inspirations?
Peter: “It was Valiant, Marvel, DC - nobody can refute the fact that Superman is one of the most popular characters in the comic world and inspired a lot of people to create a superhuman being. At 7 or 8, my first superhero comic was Superman, printed in black and white. I also read TinTin.
Regarding creators or writers, when young I did not really pay attention to who the writer was, but artist creators like Todd McFarlane - his work always amazed me and inspired me to draw better because his illustration is so detailed. Also, Joe Maduera (known for his work on Uncanny and Astonishing X-Men and his own comic book, Battle Chasers) had a huge influence on the comic industry – drawing with passion. Also, I wouldn’t fail to mention a Nigerian superhero comic strip that appeared in Nigeria’s daily newspaper, The Vanguard, way back in the late 80s, and early 90s…this Nigerian creator had four panels published every single week in the paper, and we enjoyed that part so much and inspired me.”
James: What’s your vision for Peda?
Peter: “To build a studio that services the global curiosity about African storytelling, and we do it out of pure passion. People all around the world are curious about the original African past which has been distorted or hidden, as well as the possibilities of the future in Africa. Using storytelling is powerful. It's a way to shape people, shape children, and shape the future.
For example, if you are raising two children and you harmfully tell one that he or she is useless and stupid and another child, you tell the kid he or she is a winner, one who will be great. Of course, both their lives will be impacted by this world. But what we want to do, despite what their parents may tell them negatively, is give them powerful stories, that help them believe in themselves, to inspire them to be the best.
So, we want to create a global brand that helps inspire and engage the curiosity of Africa through our stories, to help quell the lies, the scams talked about coming from Africa and highlight true African history and folklore.”
James: Can you tell us more about the artists and writers?
Peter: “The artists and illustrators and writers we work with are specifically selected for each title to make sure they have the same creative spirit and understanding of original African heritage legacy. So, we are very precise and we are very careful to work with those who have our common vision already so that we can achieve the needful faster. We don't have to spend so much time trying to coach the artist and educate them on African history and mythology. They know it. They agree with our vision from the beginning of their work with us. From this, we all come up with beautiful and powerfully compelling stories.”
James: You were born In Nigeria and now live in Texas. What has been your own journey to be in America and as a Nigerian what have you learned about being part of both national and cultural identities?
Peter: “Yes, I was born in Nigeria. I immigrated in 2015 and made many trips to America over 20 years. The journey has been great and gives me exposure to a variety of experiences and different cultures. As you know, the American economy is one of the most stable. We all know the saying, ‘there's no place like home,’ no matter what it is. You still want to be at home with your family and all the beautiful family memories growing up.
Both cultures are really important to me. It wasn’t such a big deal moving over here. We’re in tune with America since we were kids because most of the content we consume has been from America.”
James: Which of your titles would you love to see most on the big screen as a movie?
Peter: “I would mostly love to see Chayoma on the big screen because Chayoma is a story I hold very close to my heart due to personal reasons. She represents one of the most powerful black women in history. She represents the raw energy and power of the black woman who is being brought up in a world of chaos. I also tried to tell my story true to the original inspiration, full of compassion but still having to fight to survive. There is a saying, you know, of how if you are nice and kindhearted, you look weak, but I do not believe it is true. I believe that those who are kind-hearted are the strongest because in this world you will need those people to keep it going. The others can be negative-minded and self-conceited. In the end, they will not get anywhere. So, for me, there's a message in Chayoma that lets people know, ‘Yes, you can be compassionate. Yes, you can be kind-hearted and still be as powerful as a nuclear bomb.’ ”
James: When you look at movies from Marvel and DC, like Black Panther, what would you do in your cinematic universe that would differentiate Peda Entertainment?
Peter: “What is going to make us different than these movies is we are telling the original African stories. Being that I am African and have done my research, a lot of research. . .I even have traveled and gone back to the villages, speaking to the village elders, to capture these stories. And I see that there are stories that had not been told yet and the way we're going to tell, it is going to be different. We will showcase African stories that will make us stand out because they are not superficial. Every story that we create has the capacity to be explosive because we individualize our stories so each story has its own universe to portray the majesty of that tale and make it massive.”
James: How do we find your comic books and graphic novels?
Peter:“You can enjoy online browsing of our books for free, then order print collector copies from our website directly at www.pedaentertainment.com. You also can find us on Instagram at @pedacomics, on TikTok at @pedaentertainment and Facebook at pedacomics. And be sure to visit us at the comic cons!”
In the second part of our interview with Peter, we will dive into the Pedaverse! CLICK HERE FOR PART 2