Marvel and Dc comics are household naames in Hollywood, and have amassed millions of fans worldwide. These big names were the inspiration for one Daniel Isijola, to start his very own comics company based in Nigeria. The comics are designed to promote social unity and peace amongst a culture rich Nigeria. Techmoran had an interesting talk with him on how he aims to achieve this goal.
Tell us about yourself, your team, educational background
My name is Daniel Olu Isijola.I am a professional digital Artist, but I paint on Canvas as well with oil and acrylics. I have worked as a digital illustrator, comic book consultant and fine Artist for 12 years. I graduated Fist class honors from Niger Delta University in 2010. I am currently the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Djola Nollymations. Adaeze Blossom Iheduru, is the co-founder, who is a lawyer, she serves as our legal adviser. Ransome Ekwo, a Computer Science graduate. He is our Chief Operations officer. Last but not least Mrs Nancy Iheduru is our project manager and Business analyst.
How would you describe your company? What does it do, what is its main objective?
Djola Nollymations converts Nigerian movies into comic books, animation and video games to promote African culture, expand the reach of the movie industry and promote social unity in Nigeria. Our focus is on educative entertainment. We have been running for 3 years now. The wholistic aim is to share Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage with the world in an educative and entertaining way using the movies made out of the Nollywood industry. Djola Nollymations partners with movie producers in modifying and reconstructing their movies to a friendlier cartoon version of the movie making it more accessible to the world at large.
What motivated you to start Djola Nollymations?
Djola Nollymations was motivated from some interesting experiences in my life. I have always wanted to be a great artist from early childhood, even as a toddler I was greatly influenced by Da Vinci for his realistic anatomy and draperies, Micheal Angelo for his inspirational figures in painting and sculpture, Marvel comics and DC comics. The passion later translated into a career as I went ahead to study this in the university and have devoted my life to animation and comic book illustrations.
What had been the greatest challenge you faced since the inception of the company?
We didn’t start with a lot of capital and we didn’t start as experienced professional entrepreneurs. We have had to learn along the way. With time as our team grew we got professional to pitch in and some out rightly signed up voluntarily. The team realizes that the journey to selling an innovative product will be harder than selling a common product or an imitation of a popular product. We have never had anyone say our business or product is irrelevant. However, while the relevance and necessity of our products exist, we are challenged with factors that are more country specific. Nigeria has poor electricity which slows down production in terms of designs and illustrations. Nigeria has weak copyright protection in terms of enforcement, which gives room to piracy. Printing costs fluctuate with the instability of other factors like fuel prices and cost of paper importation. There is also no pre-established fair distribution of sales of comic books across Nigeria which makes distribution a major problem for us. We have pre-released 1 episode of our comic to get data on market validation and we recorded a mind-blowing sale of 300 comics in 3 days without any advanced marketing. Our greatest challenge is funding. If we get long term investors and partners, we can properly penetrate the Nollywood industry, secure their total partnership, create an advanced system of production and distribution, do proper marketing and create strong sales outlets nationally and internationally. All of which requires capital investments.
Do you serve people from other countries too or just Nigerians?
The Original business plan for Djola Nollymations covers the global comic book industry as a global entertainment company. However, based on current resources and investments have narrowed down to Nigerians, but the plan is to serve the world as a company that basically converts movies of any kind, type and genre into comic books, animation and video games. Our life time goals include, focusing on serving the movie industries in any country and of any language in this capacity. We have even recently modified our original business plan to include serving individuals who want a biography of their life stories in comic books, animation and video games. So, the answer is Yes, we serve other countries too. Comics can be used to teach languages, expose cultural perspectives and record history in a very visually appealing way.
Who is your major competition in this space and how do you stand out from them?
Our biggest competition is the “Supa strikas”. This comic book based in South Africa is sold nation wide in Nigeria and has gained its market overtime through sponsorships and partnerships. However, we are different from them because they base their story on football only. Also, they use surrealistic illustrations, which are interesting but not as realistic as ours and will therefore not appeal to our target audience. Our comics cover a larger scope in terms of Target audience. Our audiences are not just football fans and children but also adults and foreigners. Our themes are based on the movies which have been produced and already have a market for sales. We will never run out of movies to convert (raw material or illustration inspiration), including football movies and other sports. We have a larger niche market and our work is closely related to our target audience daily activities, beliefs and practice. We are not just entertaining we are educating.
How do you plan to unite Nigeria through comics as you had once expressed in a past blog?
The threat on Unity and peace in Nigeria among Nigerians is basically due to the result of poor management of the over 300 Languages and cultures that make up Nigeria. Nigeria’s biggest division factor is on culture and language. Those who benefit from the division ensure that over 300 cultures and languages have no room for peaceful interaction.
The divide does not promote interaction despite the fact that they are all Nigerians. That is why there is corruption and chaos because there is no real interaction and relationship between these diverse cultures and languages. The hostility and conflict is because each tribe is fighting for his right and does not realize that they have more shared values than differences. You know one interesting thing? when Nigeria won the world cup there was no divide. The entire country celebrated the victory everywhere in the world. That’s very interesting, sports brought the country together and entertainment can dare to do it too: With comics. Djola Nollymations will produce these comics in acceptable languages for these cultures to read and understand, then we would sell comics of different cultural perspectives among the 300+ cultures and let the common man decide what is forbidden and what is not. We believe these pictures can form the foundation for building peace and sustainable growth by promoting social unity among the diverse cultures in the country.
Where do you think your company will be in the next 5 – 10 years?
In 2016-2017 we were privileged to win the Microsoft’s WindowsInsiders4good fellowship award. Through that fellowship we have had access to seasoned business and tech professionals working with Microsoft. These mentors had to take a look at our business and provided insights and guidance. One of the Mentors showed us the importance of technology, and how we can maximize the internet in our marketing and sales. To that effect, we are Currently working on creating a mobile app that works for smartphones. This app will give our customers access to our comics on their phones, with the ability to download and read them whenever they want for a fee.
In the next 5-10 years our goal is to have created partnerships with these movie industries in Africa. We are seeking such partnerships to also give a voice to other movie industries in Africa and bring interaction between them and Nollywood. Giving Africans all over the world access to comics of diverse culture through their smart phones.