As some African comic book creators begin to attract publishers in North America and Europe, Vortex247, an Africa-centric digital comics platform based in Lagos, Nigeria, is developing the next generation of talent and harnesses the continent’s rapidly expanding digital mobile consumer. based.
Indeed, the African continent, with a combined population of 1.2 billion and a rapidly growing middle class of 300 million, is starting to impress the global economy as a creative hotbed for artists and as a market. growing for books and media.
Vortex247 is positioning itself as Africa’s answer to Amazon comixology: an application-based digital comic marketplace featuring a mix of previously published original works, owned by creators and supported by the company in a variety of genres. The site uses a monthly subscription model with a cost of around US $ 3 per month. Payments are processed through a third-party site called Paystack, which facilitates transactions within and outside Nigeria, allowing international readers from Africa, North America and elsewhere to access the site.
“We believe that African comics and fiction represent the future of global storytelling in mainstream media,” said Vortex247 Founder and CEO Somto Ajuluchukwu. “We hope to be a driving force and a platform for this new era of entertainment content,” he said, adding “and creating not only opportunities for individual creators with outstanding comics, but a place market that would create an industry for young creators to monetize their stories and develop a fan base using our comics as a tool to export African culture and globalize our Afro lifestyle.
Vortex247 currently lists 71 titles from over 30 creators. About 50% of the works presented come from Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa; others come from Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, elsewhere in Africa and Africans residing in the United States or Europe. According to the company, Vortex247 currently has over 1,500 active subscribers and is growing 8-15% per month.
Some of the best content on the site right now includes:
Land of the Gods by Somto Ajuluchukwu with art by Gamahel Kamgain and Tolu Adeojo. A charming journey of supernatural discovery starring a young Niger-American girl drawn into a magical struggle between spiritual beings in the land of Orun.
Captain South Africa by writer / artist Bill Masuku. The daughter of South Africa’s first superhero takes on her father’s mantle in a politically charged alternate timeline.
Folk tales by Somto Ajuluchukwu and Oratomi Oladapo with the art of Osikabor Emmanuel. An elegantly drawn adult-themed horror / mystery where investigators probe the secrets of an ancient African cult.
Sky prowler through Kelly Nenye Kalu, Chima Kalu and Lasbrey Nwachukwu. A polished and professional Lagos-based superhero action title that would easily fit on the shelves of any American comic book store.
Bawt by Rodney Ngundu, Elisha Nash and Tanayaku. A manga-style sci-fi epic from AfroTokyo, based in Zimbabwe.
While some of these titles have been published in print form in Africa, most of the creators and works have not received much international exposure. Ajuluchukwu said that Vortex247 is setting up a small printing business to meet the demand for printed “collector’s editions” as added value for creators and fans, and to help African designers find distribution agreements in Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom. Land of the Gods is already scheduled for release in Brazil in early 2021.
A curious technical feature is that the platform presents the comics page by page (sometimes two pages that require navigation), rather than the vertical scrolling format adopted by popular comic apps like Webtoon and Tapas.
“We realized that most users of the platform prefer to consume the content in the traditional style reflecting the actual experience of reading a printed comic,” Ajuluchukwu said. user to seamlessly zoom in and out, as well as our double tap which makes it easy to zoom in chat bubbles. “
Like any 21st century comic book publisher, Vortex247 has an eye on the larger media landscape. The company’s location in Lagos, the birthplace of “Nollywood”, the third largest film industry in the world, contributes to this. “We are currently in conversation with a few producers from Nollywood and South Africa,” said Ajuluchukwu, who added that one of the company’s VX Originals is currently in development for an iOS mobile game by a game studio. Italian.
With one of the youngest populations in the world demographically and a continent blessed with great cultural and linguistic diversity, African comics have many avenues to find an audience for exciting graphic storytelling.
Vortex247, like the African comic book industry, is only at the beginning of its journey in terms of creative and economic impact. But it’s a promising start. Vortex247 offers a range of genres designed to appeal to all ages, genders and international boundaries. Open-minded American readers are likely to find the diverse portrayal of African characters, places, voices and values a refreshing and valuable addition to the global comic book vocabulary.