Greenlit for ‘Iyanu’: Child of Wonder Series at HBO Max, Cartoon Network

'Iyanu: Child of Wonder' Series Greenlit at HBO Max, Cartoon Network

HBO Max and Cartoon Network announced a 2D animated adaptation of “Iyanu: Child of Wonder,” a Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel series heavily influenced by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Lion Forge Animation, a Black animation studio, will finance and supervise the project.

“Iyanu: Child of Wonder” is a superhero tale set in the magical kingdom of Yorubaland, which draws from Nigerian culture, music and mythology. Iyanu, a teenager orphan, is shown in the series. She spends her time studying Yoruba history as well as ancient arts but longs for a normal lifestyle. Unknowingly, one day she is confronted with danger and triggers her divine powers. These abilities are unlike anything seen since the Age of Wonders. Iyanu and two other teenagers are given new powers that allow them to join forces on a journey to find the truth about evil in their homeland. Throughout her adventure, she’ll uncover the truth about her past, her parents, and her ultimate destiny to save the world.

Roye Okupe is the creator of the series. He will also be writing and directing multiple episodes. Supervising director is Saxton Moore, Lion Forge’s head of production. Brandon Easton leads the writers room. Executive producers include Okupe, Doug Schwalbe, Carl Reed, Lion Forge’s David Steward II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital’s Erica Dupuis and Forefront Media Group’s Ryan Haidarian.

The greenlight of “Iyanu: Child of Wonder” is notable as it continues signaling the emergence of Africa as a player in global streaming. Much of this growth begins in the kids and family space — for example, Lupita Nyong’o became an equity partner in Nairobi, Kenya-based production company Kukua in 2021 and stars in its YouTube Originals animated series “Super Sema.” African titles made for older audiences are also beginning to cross over, such as Netflix’s South African drama “Blood & Water,” which debuted in 2020 and made Netflix’s Top 10 list in the U.S. Netflix also recently released “Blood Sisters,” the streamer’s first original series from Nigeria.

“‘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.”

“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 Steward, founder of Lion Forge. “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.”

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