African Comic Iyanu: Child of Wonder Gets Animated Series at HBO Max and Cartoon Network

HBO Max and Cartoon Network are adding a series from the Dark Horse Comics catalog to their upcoming lineup. Iyanu: Child of Wonder is a series originally self-published through Roye Okupe's YouNeek Studios. Okupe has curated a line of comics centered on African stories, such as Malika: Warrior Queen, Iyanu: Child of Wonder, and E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams. Dark Horse announced in 2021 that it would publish Okupe's entire line of graphic novels, introducing the story to a new demographic of fans. The popularity of Iyanu: Child of Wonder has now caught the eye of HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

Iyanu: Child of Wonder is getting a 2D children's animated adaptation at the two Warner Bros. Discovery networks. Black-owned animation studio Lion Forge Animation (Academy Award-winning Hair Love) is financing and overseeing the project, with Roye Okupe also writing and directing several episodes. Lion Forge's head of production Saxton Moore (Rise Up, Sing Out) is the supervising director. Brandon Easton (Transformers: War for Cybertron: SeigeMarvel's Agent Carter) will lead the writers room. Executive producers include Okupe, Doug Schwalbe, Carl Reed, Lion Forge's David Stewart II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital's Erica Dupuis, and Forefront Media Group's Ryan Haidarian.

"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," said Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. "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."

(Photo: Warner Bros. Discovery)

"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," said Lion Forge founder David Stewart II. "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."

"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," said Roye Okupe. "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."

"As a former public school teacher in the Bronx and Harlem, I spent many years with Black, Latino, and Asian teens and saw what they gravitated toward. They loved anime, manga, and things along those lines, but they all lamented that none of the characters looked like them," said Brandon Easton. "So when I was hired to adapt Roye's amazing Iyanu graphic novel, I wanted the story to reflect Roye's original vision while also injecting a sense of pride and wonder for all children worldwide, but specifically for kids who rarely see themselves reflected in a positive light or at all. Iyanu has also changed the way I see myself as a creator – with the awesome responsibility to tell an unprecedented story to a global audience that showcases the humanity of African children."

"Iyanu will usher in a new genre of animation around the African diaspora, and Lion Forge Animation is super excited to be a part of it," added Saxton Moore. "We hope to empower little adventurous girls around the globe with Iyanu's story."

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.