If you have ever bemoaned or wondered at the apparent lack of diversity in comics especially where African characters are concerned, this bit of good news is for you. Deities in African mythology─ Orishas─ will soon be out in comics and may become mainstream judging by the excitement that has followed after the news broke.
Yes! Believe your eyes (and ears). Feted Orishas of Yoruba traditional religious lore have been reimagined as comic gods cum superheroes akin to Marvel’s Avengers and DC’s Justice League.
Some of the drawings have circulated around the internet and these reimagined Orishas absolutely look fit to stand their ground as a new franchise and perhaps even upend the existing status quo in the comicsphere.
Who is the creator?
The brain behind this initiative is none other than Hugo Canuto; a 30 year old illustrator from Bahia in Brazil with an avid interest in Afro-Brazilian culture.
Why is Hugo Canuto creating this comic?
Like most people of African descent, Hugo wondered why Thor was easily accepted as a hero figure while Orishas like Sango are demonised. Also fuelling his decision to render the Orishas in comic form was the under-representation and negative depiction of people of colour in Brazilian Media as being unemployed; criminal, tardy and generally as unsavoury characters.
Where it all began
To pursue a dream he had nurtured since 2013, Hugo relocated from São Paolo to his hometown of Salvador in Bahia─ a city rich in Yoruba/Nago heritage─ to undertake required research about the Orishas before recreating their stories via comics.
How it all panned out
The movement actually started aligning when Hugo did a tribute cover for the Avengers to honour Jack Kirby on his 99th birthday. His cover which depicted Avengers’ characters as Yoruba Orishas was so well-received on social media that he was spurred on to create a standalone comic franchise of Orishas.
Through crowdfunding, he was able to raise enough to produce the comic book series titled ‘Tales of Orishas’.
Hugo Canuto will handle the scripting/story while Marcelo Kina does the artwork/layout and Pedro Junior finishes up the colouring aspect.
When should ‘Tales of Orishas’ be expected?
The finished project ‘Tales of Orishas’ is a 90-page comic and will debut in Brazil next month (August 2017) before been distributed elsewhere.