Get Graphic: Godwin Akpan Creates a World of Wonder
Sep 13, 2021
Art by Godwin Akpan
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
This week's Get Graphic focuses on the colorful and eye popping digital artwork of Nigerian concept artist and illustrator Godwin Akpan. Godwin is the artist behind Iyanu: Child of Wonder (MAY210233), an extraordinary story about a teenage orphan with no recollection of her past. She suddenly discovers that she has abilities that rival the ancient deities told in the folklore of her people. It is these abilities that are the key to bringing back an "age of wonders," as Iyanu begins her journey to save a world on the brink of destruction!
In the following spotlight, Godwin Akpan tells us how he ended up working on this project with writer Roye Okupe, Godwin's creative inspirations, and he shows us a small glimpse of his creative process.
"I’m Godwin Akpan. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. " - Godwin Akpan
"I had the privilege of Illustrating Iyanu Volume One. An epic fantasy based on Yoruba culture. The story follows the life of Iyanu -- our teenage protagonist -- who has no recollection of her past, but must somehow come to terms with the fact that she’s connected to the divine ones and possesses powers beyond her imagination. It’s a rich mix of magic, action and adventure." - Godwin Akpan
"Roye and I have been friends for some time now, having worked on some of his previous titles, I can say for a fact he’s got great ideas. So when he reached out to me early in 2019 with a synopsis and a brief to come up with a design for Iyanu, I couldn’t resist. Then he pitched the idea of a full 100-page graphic novel and requested I illustrate the entire book. It was daunting at first because I haven’t done any graphic novels on this scale but I was already attached to the character and at that point. It was only right I work on the [comic] as well, and I’m glad I did." - Godwin Akpan
"The character Iyanu is a teenage orphan who is oblivious to some of the powers she possesses. So we needed to capture that childlike innocence and curiosity in her look. So we went for larger eyes. We gave her a slightly slender and athletic form which would allow for easy maneuvering in and out of the forest. The Red and cream colors in her outfit are reminiscent of the traditional attire of Ondo people in Nigeria. The afro hair alludes to the fact that she represents every black child out there. " - Godwin Akpan
"Usually, I would go through so many iterations before finalizing the design, but for some reason I connected so well with the character from the get-go. It didn’t take too many drawings to arrive at a final design." - Godwin Akpan
"Creating the art for Iyanu was no easy task. It took a whole year to complete the illustrations for volume one. Because I’m a painter at heart, I decided to go for a painterly approach to the graphic novel which is quite different from other YouNeek titles." - Godwin Akpan
"I knew this would be the best way to showcase some of the beauty and grandeur of the world. The process usually involves a series of rough thumbnails which serves as a storyboard. These are later cleaned up and composed into comic panels."
"I love creating a sense of mood and lighting and I made no exceptions on this project. It was a fun and enlightening process all the way and I really loved the results." - Godwin Akpan
"The world of Iyanu is rich and vibrant, with magical creatures and spiritual connections. It showcases aspects of Yoruba culture; the costumes, the architecture, the symbols all have a bearing to the history of ile-ife." - Godwin Akpan
"The story is a riveting tale of survival. A tale of self-discovery, and a return to the age of wonders." - Godwin Akpan
Dark Horse and YouNeek Studios launch a shared universe of African fantasy and superhero stories-the YouNeek YouNiverse!
Extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters inspired by African history, culture, and mythology.
Over 300 story pages!
A movement of African-inspired comics & storytelling!
• Dark Horse and YouNeek Studios launch a shared universe of African fantasy and superhero stories-the YouNeek YouNiverse!
• Extraordinary stories about extraordinary characters inspired by African history, culture, and mythology.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.