Panoramic tells the story of Nigeria using comics and animation – Tunji Anjorin
Many Nigerian millennials and even Gen-Z grew up reading comics and watching animation where the characters didn’t look and dress like them. The characters were Snow Whites and Cinderellas who were blonde, wore ball gowns and attended tea parties. It was always the narrative of the western world that Nigerian children grew up enjoying and craving. All of that is changing now, as Panoramic is now adapting Nigerian historical stories into comics and animations for global audiences.
It is exciting to think that in the future there will now be cartoon characters called Amina, Oduduwa, Obatala, and one can now watch their favorite cartoon characters dress, talk and eat like Nigerians. It will be a whole new narrative, according to Tunji Anjorin, president and co-founder of Panoramic entertainment.
“All my life watching cartoons and reading comics, and I’ve never seen names that sound like mine or my relatives or my dads, it sparked a kind of curiosity in me. There had a worldwide system for telling stories from just one part of the world.That changed a bit when we started seeing productions like Black Panther, Black is King, Coming to America, etc., but in reality it it was about producers and sellers from the western world telling our stories and selling them to us.
“At Panoramic entertainment, we thought we could do things differently, from our point of view. We want to own our stories and tell them to the rest of the world because we will do it well since it is ours,” Anjorin said on the Nairametrics Business Half Hour show.
Panoramic started in 2007 as an original content production, distribution and development company. The goal was to take original content from Nigeria’s rich history and cultural heritage and adapt it into easy-to-understand content for local and global audiences. This takes the form of comics which have also recently become available in digital format, as well as animations which Panoramic media has recently ventured into.
The first product was 1897: The Bini kingdom, which was the first of the African historical comedy series. This story is recently adapted into an NFT called Bini Bronze, cultural exchange projectin accordance with the technological advancements in this space.
Stories spanning different ethnic groups and states in Nigeria, such as Queen Amina of Zaria, Oduduwa, Eyo, Mary Slessor and Jaja of Opobo, among others, have also been adapted into comics in print and digital format which are used in the schools across the country and universities around the world. Some content is also used by research institutions outside the continent.
It is a company that serves the dual purpose of entertainment, education and even cultural heritage preservation. Since the start, the company has embarked on other partnerships and projects to support them financially as they progress. Sponsoring and buying comics in bulk from schools also brings encouragement and income.
There are also quite a few hurdles to jump through in the research process as there is not much documentation. However, the team explores the oral history that has been passed down, and also brings research done in select academic circles, to merge into one robust and interesting plot.
“There are also professors from certain universities here and there; then of these traditional anchors of history. If we have two stories that are similar in many ways, we string them into one because we can’t tell two different versions of a story,” he explained.
Also, the entertainment and media industry is not as easy to break into, so other challenges arise along the way. Nevertheless, Panoramic media has achieved significant milestones and its works continue to attract recognition and praise in different circles.
Although the general perception is that comics and animations appeal to children, there are several foreign animated films at the box office and they gather a significant number of views and revenues. This shows that even the older population finds the animations interesting too.
“We line up to go to Disneyworld to take pictures and we pay for them. They are the ones who have us in their pockets and who are monetizing. Fortunately, due to the advancement and emergence of NFTs, we are raising awareness like through this Bini Bronze project. If at some point the next generation of children could see box office movies and content about Nigeria getting the most views and attracting viewership, we would have achieved our main goal,” Anjorin noted.
Panoramic media operated from a physical office until COVID-19 hit, and businesses had to transition to a remote model. However, the company is now moving back to working in a physical and bringing illustrators, graphic designers and animators under one roof, to encourage creativity.
For the next phase of growth, Panoramic Media is pushing further into the animations and NFT space.