Sunday 5 June 2016

Soyinka as 'Guinea Pig' For Captain Blud Comic

By Tajudeen Sowole

 A new comic publication, The Adventures Of Captain Blud, which depicts Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka as lead character or 'hero' brings freshness into celebration of values. In fact, Captain Blud promotes courage and self-esteem, particularly against imperial tendency. 
Cover of the book.

 Across generations, popular comics such as Superman, Batman, Incredible Hulk, among other characters from the western culture have promoted violence and shaped wrong values under the guise of entertainment, even beyond the spaces of origin. But Captain Blud is heading towards a different direction of civility, yet with excitement.
  Illustrated in digitally generated paintings and dramatised with over 300 frames, this Soyinka biopic is indeed different; the hero's weapon is not laser gun, macho body or pump action gun, but the pen, which pumps out laser words against the oppressors.

Captain Blud the biopic may just be the right medium for children and young adults to be informed or educated on crucial parts of Nigerian history about who did what in the past. Scripted in well-researched dialogues, particularly, of the lines delivered by the lead character - in what represents depiction of Soyinka – the comic is coming into the Nigerian space, perhaps as a rescue-mission at a time when internet is eroding reading culture.

 And to stress the significance of reading culture to the coming of the comic, the Olu Ajayi-led Technical Committee of the book chose an appropriate venue for the public presentation. It was presented at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos, a space known for hosting literary events, regularly. At the presentation, Prof Soyinka who made a brief appearance pleaded, "I am not here." He however expressed his happiness "to be the guinea pig of the entire project," before making his exit out of the modestly populated event. 

 For the visual contents of The Adventures Of Captain Blud, there come among the best hands in illustration as artists. The illustrators include, veteran cartoonist, Pa Cliff Ogiugo, Rafik Areguamen, Tokeda Adebayo and Kayode Tejumola.  Specifically, the cover illustration is done by Tunde Soyinka, while Chuks Onwudinjo and Ajayi did the cover design and layout. Published by NASCOM Publications Limited, photography is done by Felix Elijah.

  As much as the visual contents of the book are the real essence of comic genre, the dialogues also define the literary identity of the personality being depicted.  Profound work in scripting the storyboard is done by writer, John Paul Ezeani. Among the storyboard are frames of conversation between Captain Blud and a military officer. 'I have been reading your statements. It's all very intereting and I would like us to go through one or two points in it,' Harry Ugowe, a military officer says to Soyinka shortly after his arrest. 'If you say you form a committee to campaign internationally against importation of arms to Nigeria. Do you realise that that is a very disloyal thing to do?'

 Captain Blud replies: 'I don't accept that.'

'You don't think it helps the rebels? How is war to be fought without weapons?' Ugowe, a member of propaganda and intelligence office under Gowon’s military government asks Captain Blud. 'I am campaigning against the importation of arms to Nigeria and the secessionist state,' Captain Buid explains.

 For Quintessence, which is the host of the book launch and one of the retail outlets, the concept of the comic truly represents the personality depicted. "We are excited promoting the icons of our time in partnership with Olu Ajayi Studio and one of such ways is this comic book about Soyinka," curator at Quintessence, Moses Ohiomokhare stated. “The Cartoon captures Prof Soyinka; his adventures which was not known to very many generations. It also exposes us to his struggles. We hope this project will also be viewed on cartoon network with support of the public in the near future." 

  In reviewing the book, Gbemi Sagay noted, among other points, that the publication was "created as a means of developing a pop cultural reference to which Nigerian and African youth can relate."

 Founder of Nero Asibelua Foundation, Mr Asibelua argued that individualism is common in Nigerian society. He therefore believed that a work like The Adventures of Captain Blud can "get people together."

 In hard cover, the illustrations are mostly done in digitally generated images with a mix of hand-paintings. "The production took five years to complete," Ajayi whose studio supervised the project stated.

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