Event Review: Comic Panel Industry Night

The inaugural edition of the Comic Panel industry Night was held on March 31, 2017. At the Nigerian Film Corporation Cinema Hall, Ikoyi, Lagos. It was a night that stakeholders in the

Nigerian Comic and Animation industry had long waited for, with bated breath.

I didn’t have much difficulty getting to the venue. As it was just along the road to the Immigration Office in Ikoyi, popularly known as “Passport Office”, by commercial vehicle drivers and commuters alike.

All I did was get to Obalende and then I boarded a Keke-Napep heading to Passport Office. And I alighted adjacent to the Nigerian Film Corporation building, and crossed the road to get to its gate. I was ushered in by the Security Personnel on duty.

At the well-lit up lobby, the Comic Panel receptionist was on hand to put me through the registration process. Before her, on an adjoining table, were lots of wares ranging from t-shirts to comic Books, with various comic brand imprints.

In a matter of seconds, I was done with the registration. Then, I was kindly shown the way, upstairs, to the Cinema Hall where the event had already begun. The moment I opened the door to the Cinema Hall, I was greeted with flickers of light from big screen.

I had arrived just in time for the screening of the pilot episode of Adefellas, a cartoon set in a university in Lagos. Which chronicles the lives of Dontell and his friends, on campus.

 

The cartoon was in 2D graphics, richly coloured, very audible, with cool original music, and unique characters who exchanged banters with such creative wittiness and candour.

After Adefellas was screened, there was a huge applause for the creators of the cartoon.

After this, the MC, Cisi Eze, an animator herself, took the floor to announce that Ray Anyasi, the C.O.O of Spoof Animation, would be moderating a discourse based on, the effect of Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement on the Comic Industry. An excited Mr. Ray took the floor and opened the discourse. And as anticipated, it turned out to be really engaging and insightful; and soon spawned mini-forum sessions among the audience, midway into the discourse.

There were lots of contributions made on the night, towards the topic of discourse. An intellectual property lawyer went on to expatiate more on the dichotomy between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement. He talked absolutely how Copyright Infringement was a criminal offence, but Plagiarism was more of a moral issue than a criminal offence. This controversial assertion wasn't stomached by some members of the audience. As many believed that Plagiarism was as much a criminal offence as Copyright Infringement.

Another man who was a top-level civil servant by day and a comic enthusiast by night, expressed his heartfelt interest in the monetary and profit-making aspect of the comic industry. He emphasized on the need to pump much funds into the Nigerian comic industry, in order to get the best of top quality works out of it.

Yet another man stated that many Nigerian comic super hero characters were plagiarized versions of comic super heroes from the Western world. This sparked a bit of argument among the audience. As a handful of them were of the opinion that even the Western comic artists plagiarize each other's work. Instances were cited of the cases of plagiarism between comic characters developed by Marvel Comics and those developed by DC Comics. With virtually everyone agreeing that there was actually a striking semblance between Marvel's Hyperion, and DC's Man of Steel (Superman), especially Superman-Prime. Plagiarized similarities were also pointed out between Marvel's Sentry and Superman. Icon by Milestone Comics, was also said to be a plagiarized version of Superman.

The man went on to admonish the Nigerian comic artists to be more creative with their content in order to engender originality and uniqueness in their works. He cited the Oriental comics: anime and manga, a true example of original and unique content; that has gone on to earn a massive crossover appeal in the Western world.

After this, a couple of people told stories of their experiences with Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement. The first was by a representative of the company managing the Super Strikas comic book franchise in Nigeria. She told the story of how a man who was initially brought on board to work with her company...went on to the infringe on the Super Strikas franchise copyright. He went as far as beguiling people into buying a phantom online issue of Super Strikas.

A man who works as an illustrator with a top publishing company, told of how a fellow illustrator in another top publishing company just next door, nearly landed him into trouble with the law enforcement agents. Why? He had shared a concept of his for an illustration, with the fellow illustrator next door. However, the fellow illustrator played a fast one on him, and went on to plagiarize the concept. He even went as far as publishing it first, before its original creator did. And this sparked a row between the two publishing houses. Thus making it look like the original creator of the concept apparently stole from the actually plagiarizer.

The issue of how the fine for Copyright Infringement in the Nigerian Constitution, needed to be reviewed, was also raised. Since the current fine is too meager. With the illustrator who told the last story, hinting humorously that he was very eager to pay the meager fine, if he had eventually been, ironically, found guilty of the plagiarism and copyright infringement of his own work.

At this juncture, Mr. Ray closed the discourse, with a hint that the issue will likely be up for discussion at the next Industry Night. Having said this, he gave way for Ayodele Elegba, MD of Mustardseed to take the floor. Mr. Ayo asked for a consensus vote from the audience to decide if the Comic Panel Industry Night would be a quarterly or monthly event. After much deliberation, the consensus arrived at favoured a monthly meeting.

Then, a representative of the Nigerian Film Corporation, who was the host on the night, admonished all stakeholders in the Nigerian Comic and Animation Industry to come together and create a structured body and union that will be able to represent their interest before the Federal Government.

After he said this, a documentary on the history of film making in Hollywood, anchored by Keanu Reeves, was shown on-screen. And that served as the last act of the night. A befitting way to cap what was by every means an amazing evening.

 

 

 

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