Comic lovers in Lagos need not look far for a place to indulge their passion. Emperor’s Groove is a monthly gathering of comic enthusiasts from publishers to creatives, from buyers to sellers.
The August edition which was the 12th edition, held at Omole in Ikeja, Lagos on Saturday August 30th and was a beehive of activities.
Emperor’s Groove has been running for a year and half and is convened by Ibrahim Ganiyy, CEO of ICS, publishers of Dark Edge comics. In an interview with staging.sabinews.com, Ibrahim spoke about the challenges faced by comic publishers and future plans.
Sabinews: Looking around, there are a lot of products targeting comic lovers; is there anything here for non-comics?
It’s really about comics and comic related stuff. One of the reasons we started the Emperor’s Groove in the first place was because comic publishers had problems as to how to sell their comics and then comic readers had problems as to where to get the comic books. We have a ComicCon which is like once a year. We thought, what if we had a place monthly, like regular market, where you can buy all the comics you want? Publishers know that they can bring their comics here. So that was the basic reason.
Sabinews: How long have you been into comics?
That question is always hard to answer. Does it count from when I was in Primary Six? Or does it start counting from when I started this company in JSS One? I was fourteen years old when I started, back in secondary school. It wasn’t a business then, it was just a small club of creative people. Dark Edge started in 1999; it was our first published comic book, we have featured other comics in newspapers. But if we count from our first publication, it’s been 15 years.
Sabinews: A lot of regular book publishers complain about reduced sales and a decline in the reading culture. How is it for comic books?
Most people still view comics as children’s play things and then it worsens because publishers themselves don’t know exactly who they’re targeting with their comic books because children can’t buy the comic books but parents can buy. So you don’t make it for the parents you make it for the children so the parents can be aroused into buying. But too many comic publishers produce for parents or adults who have already made up their minds about certain things. For instance, our title, Dark Edge, a mother heard it and said, ‘Dark Edge? I’m not buying this for my children.’
Publishers are not helping matters by not producing for the masses, that’s the first problem. Then the masses themselves are not exposed to this kind of things, so what they want is what they want, not what the publishers are producing. And then there’s the problem of distribution. It costs almost twice the amount needed to produce the comic books to distribute them. So, it becomes hard. Production is another trouble. Every creative person in Nigeria expects that they deserve a million naira for every page of comic that they draw and that is a problem for an industry that is just growing. People expect to make millions once they draw their first comic. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve been at this for a while and I know that the profit is slowly coming in. I have realised also that we need to define what comic books are to our country, not around the world and one of the first things I realized is that comics is an educational tool. It can be used to celebrate the things that people like and love so you don’t try to introduce too many new things to them. That’s our new orientation at IC Studios.
Sabinews: Is there a plan for comics to be converted into animated movies?
That’s definitely the vision. We have done sample tests for animations for Dark Edge, for instance, but I know other comic publishers have done animation tests for their titles. Generally, I know the feel among comic publishers is to do animations. But we have to cross that first hurdle of getting people to know and like the characters first before investing that kind of money into animations and movies.
Sabinews: Do you think animated movies will do better than the printed comics?
For me, it comes with the understanding that comic books in themselves are not things we should produce and hope to make profit from. The great publishers who make comic books around the world don’t make their profit from comic book production and sales. They make it from the other things surrounding the comics. So the comics become an advertising tool to get people to go and watch the animated film, to buy the t-shirts, the caps, the jewelry and all that. So definitely that will move faster but only if the characters are known and loved already.