From Folktales to Panels with Adedayo Erivic
Nigerian comics haven't sprung up overnight. Their roots burrow deep into the rich soil of oral traditions, where griots wove tales of valiant warriors, mischievous spirits, and gods as mighty as the storms. Colonial influences left their mark too, with imported comics sparking local adaptations and a hunger for homegrown narratives. Then, post-independence, creativity truly flourished. Pioneering artists like Adedayo Erivic are paving the way for a comics industry brimming with potential.
Meet Adedayo Erivic: An afro-centric comic book artist.
Adedayo Erivic is a young Nigerian award-winning comic book artist and an Afrocentric creator whose works have been featured on both local and international platforms. He is the founder of Comics Archive Africa, the platform with the largest collection of independent African and black comics. He is also the founder of Unibadan Comic Convention, Nigeria’s first campus comic convention, and now Comic-Con Ibadan, the official geek and pop culture event of West Africa’s largest city. Presently working on his comic book, Joguonmi, under his new production studio (We Are Erivic Productions), Erivic wishes to establish and showcase a new pattern of African comic book creation, which he calls Afroblot. Afroblot (Afro: relating to people of Africa, and Blot: a mark or stain made with ink) focuses on the use of strong black ink or colour, white, grey, and red in comic book making, and hopefully, it’d distinguish African comics from other parts of the world.
How did you venture into the world of comic book artistry?
My comic book journey (as an artist) didn’t start as early as that of many other people; I didn’t grow up reading comic books or watching animated movies. My earliest knowledge of comic books was supa strikas and (maybe) indomitables. Although I used to draw and paint, it wasn’t until around 2016 that I properly discovered comic books, and I instantly loved the medium because I love the idea of being able to tell stories with images. I’ve always “consciously” been an artist since I was six (although my mum said I’ve always drawn from way earlier than six. She once showed me some of her church notes which I filled with art while I was way younger) so transitioning into comic book art felt more natural for me. However, starting in 2016, I’m glad I’ve not only grown as a comic book artist but also as a comic book creator and contributor to the growth of the Nigerian and African comic book industry.
What inspired you to become a comic book artist, particularly within the Nigerian context?
Well, I became fascinated by the several arts I came across. I can remember randomly stumbling upon Jim Lee’s page on Facebook and I was blown off. It was at that point I knew I’d be a comic book artist. I initially wanted to be a comic book artist in DC and illustrate Batman officially, but I later shelved the idea and decided to situate myself within the Nigerian and African space. As a comic book artist in Nigeria, I believe I have a responsibility to not only create images and tell stories with my art, but to contribute positively to the growing catalogue of African comic book stories. And this is one of the reasons I’m putting forward the Afroblot movement which will be out soon.
Nigerian Comic Book Industry
From your perspective, how have you witnessed the evolution of the Nigerian comic book industry over the years?
While I believe there’s much more work to be done in the Nigerian comic book industry, it’s also necessary for me to acknowledge the growth that has happened within the industry in the last 10 years. The industry has gone from trying to prove that Nigerians can make comic books to competing on international levels in terms of quality and relevance. We have studios like Peda Comics selling out at foreign conventions, we have Kugali signing a Disney animation deal. There are many more developments worth acknowledgement and I believe the industry could only keep getting bigger.
How do you incorporate Nigerian culture or folklore into your work, and why do you think this is important for the industry?
I do not necessarily think incorporating folklore or culture into one's work is very important in the Nigerian industry; I think making it a rule could be restrictive. Anyone should be able to use whatever element, genre, or theme they want in their work. I personally just love to infuse elements of the Nigerian culture into my work; especially the traditional Yoruba culture (that’s the culture I’m more familiar with), because I’m passionate about it. It’s not just about wanting to jump on the bandwagon of “we are making comics about African culture” just for attention, as I’ve seen some people do. There should be some level of accuracy, especially with little details. Imagine making a comic about the Yoruba god Sango and making his attire blue when in reality he (Sango) has a colour he’s known for. From the story, to the little details in architecture, to the attire and even diction, you could see elements of the Nigerian culture in my published works. In fact, I’m stretching myself so much in the new comic I’m making (Jogunomi). There’s so much attention into even the tiniest detail other people might want to overlook
Advice and Insights
For aspiring comic book artists in Nigeria, what advice would you offer based on your experiences in the industry?
My biggest advice is to learn to be professional. As you’re building your artistic skills, build your work ethic as well. It’s one thing to be a good artist, it’s another to be a professional artist. Where your skills fail you, your work ethic will save you. Oftentimes when I work with a new set of artists, I discover they are only skilled but possess really poor work ethics. I’ve seen many aspiring artists mock some established artists because they think the established artist can’t draw as well as them, what they do not know is the established artist has been in business for a long because of his work ethic. The industry is not looking for the best artist but the most professional artist. You have to be able to draw (that’s what brings you into the industry) but most importantly, you have to be able to work in the industry. If you are placed on a project, can they depend on you to get the work done? Can you meet the deadlines? can you be responsible enough to communicate back to people who hire you? Can you work with a team? Also, learn to negotiate. Chances are you’d be offered several ridiculous offers that could even make you question whether you’re a good artist. Sometimes, the problem is not you, it’s them. If you don’t know how to negotiate, you’ll always fall into traps. Another piece of advice is to not sell yourself short but don’t be ridiculously out of touch with reality as well. When you allow hunger to be your creative manager, you’d always agree to almost every offer even if the pay or reward is ridiculous. Trying to “ridiculously” reduce your price just to be able to stay in business doesn’t keep you in business, you’re only going to keep staying busy for peanuts. However, you also need to know when you’re being unrealistic. Aim high but be realistic. That you have a very good and high skill level doesn’t mean you’d be paid the highest, that’s the sad reality. When you get into the business, you’re paid for your skill, as you progress, you’re paid for your worth. Don’t because you think you’re more skilful than an established artist, start to assume you deserve the same thing he gets. You’re paid for your skill; he’s paid for his worth. Your art won’t sell as high as that of Rob Liefeld regardless of whether you can draw better feet than him. Liefeld can be placed on a comic book just to revive the title, you can’t. My last piece of advice is probably the cliché one you’ve seen everywhere: “LEARN TO DRAW THE BASICS.” And also, learn to accept corrections. Someone who critiques your work doesn’t necessarily have to be able to draw up to you, as long as they have eyes and are not being rude, consider their comment and if what they say is true about your work, adjust it. You are not ready to take commissions, you need to first learn to make corrections.
Erivic's insights reflect a decade of growth within the Nigerian comic scene, his work exemplifies a commitment to authenticity, while his advice to aspiring artists stresses professionalism, negotiation skills, and continual improvement as vital components for success in this dynamic field. What are your thoughts on the Nigerian comic book industry? Kindly share with us in the comment section.