Roye Okupe didn’t read comic books growing up in Lagos, Nigeria. Comic book shops weren’t around. Instead, Okupe was introduced to superheroes through Saturday morning cartoons such as “Transformers” and “X-Men.”
So when he set out to create his own Nigerian superhero, he thought animation was the way to go. That idea led Okupe on a journey that culminated in him debuting a new universe of African superheroes. Just not in the way he originally planned.
Okupe, now 31, arrived in the United States in 2002, attending George Washington University and earning a bachelors and master’s degree in computer science in 2007 and 2009. In between those degrees he took a class in animation at the Art Institute of Washington. After college, while working as a web developer for International Software Systems in Greenbelt, Md., Okupe was able to put together an eight-minute animated trailer featuring his first superhero creation, Wale Williams, a young, 20-something Nigerian who suits up in high-tech armor to become the African superhero E.X.O. (Endogenic Xoskeletal Ordnance).