In recent years we’ve seen an influx of animated series featuring Black characters as the lead. Shows like Eureka!, Craig of the Creek, Karma’s World and the groundbreaking Doc McStuffins have given Black kids a chance to see themselves in animation.
Per a press release provided to The Root, a new hero will join those important series, as HBO Max and Cartoon Network are adapting Iyanu: Child of Wonder into an animated series. Based on the Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel created by Nigerian filmmaker Roye Okupe, the story “follows a teenage heroine who must uncover the mystery behind her newfound powers to save her people from an ancient curse threatening to destroy humanity.”
“Heavily influenced by the history and achievements of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, Iyanu: Child of Wonder is set in the magical kingdom of Yorubaland. The series follows a teenage orphan girl, Iyanu, who spends her days studying Yoruba history and ancient arts but yearns for a normal life. One day, responding to danger, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers, the likes of which have not been seen since the Age of Wonders. With newly discovered superpowers, Iyanu joins forces with two other teenagers as they embark on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the evil lurking in her homeland. Throughout her adventure, she’ll uncover the truth about her past, her parents, and her ultimate destiny to save the world.”
It’s always exciting to hear about a new animated series like this, because it’s great to know that kids today are getting all the amazing heroes and characters we never got when we were kids. When kids get to see themselves in these sort of fantasy stories, it opens them up to the idea that they can be and do anything.
“When I set out to create Iyanu for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” Okupe said in a statement. “On top of that, working with Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, as our Art Director and collaborating with a thoughtful studio-like Lion Forge Animation that prioritizes authenticity and diversity, is beyond belief.”
Black-owned studio Lion Forge Animation is financing the project, with founder David Steward II executive producing and Brandon Easton (Marvel’s Agent Carter) leading the writer’s room.
“The authenticity of the Iyanu story means everything to us and aligns perfectly with our mission to create and deliver inclusive content to global audiences,” Steward II said. “A powerful means of accomplishing and sustaining this is through franchise building, and the depth and layers of the Iyanu world allow us to explore and create a beautiful universe on screen alongside tremendous partners.”