HBO Max and Cartoon Network have both announced a 2D animated adaptation of Iyanu: Child of Wonder, a Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel series heavily influenced by the Yoruba tribe.
The graphic novel is a superhero tale set in the magical kingdom of Yorubaland, which draws from Nigerian culture, music and mythology. The series follows Iyanu, a teenage orphan 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.
The series is created by Roye Okupe, who will also write and direct multiple episodes.
Okupe had this to say about the project:
“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.
“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.”
The project will be financed and overseen by Black-owned animation studio Lion Forge Animation.
Steward, the founder of Lion Forge, had this t say about Iyanu: Child of Wonder:
“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.
“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.”
Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros, had this to say:
“‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ has it all – vast world-building, authentic characters, a strong, African female hero at the center, and a first-class team of stellar creators and producers
“While created for kids, the series will resonate with anyone looking for an adventure filled with surprise, magic, lore, and legend. We feel so lucky to be the home of ‘Iyanu’ and partnering with this team.”
No premiere date has been announced yet for the project.