Interviewed by Bubemi Ekengbuda.
The new generation of Nigerian children who have been taken over by the new technology we have everywhere may not know him, but if you have been around for a while and remember reading “Ikebe Super” then you are not far from guessing who he is.
He is Mr. Morak Oguntade, he was the cartoonist responsible for the well illustrated characters of the hit comic, “ikebe super”. Mr. Morak often keeps a low profile, but today he’s going to share with us things about himself, he’s other works we may have or not have heard about and how he made a name for himself in the difficult Nigerian comic industry.
Bubemi: Sir, we would like to hear from you, what motivated you to become a cartoonist ?
Morak: Motivation must have come from comic books. As a child I was very much excited by cartoons and illustrations.
Bubemi: When you were a kid, is this what you wished to become when you grow up?
Morak: Most definitely!
Bubemi: How difficult was it to become a cartoonist, what are some of the challenges you faced while starting up?
Morak: There are no challenges to developing your talent. If there were any they were too insignificant to count. I loved to be drawing and just got down and did so. Every chance I get I drew I still have this habit to be drawing and sketching almost every time. If we are talking about getting art materials as oppose to getting a violin or a piano you are sure it’s not that hard to get paper and pencils.”
Bubemi: What do you love most about what you do?
Morak: A sense of fulfillment like no other. The world around keeps feeding me with materials and subjects to work on. The reactions from people are great but much greater is the inner satisfaction that one gets to have illustrated exactly what one had envisaged.”
Bubemi: As a cartoonist you must have people who you looked up to while growing up, who were they and what is it about them that attracted you to them?
Morak: After being a professional artist for around 40 years you can expect the list of influential people to be very long indeed. And it is too many to mention but I will say that the Savage Sword Of Conan back in the 80s formed the bulk of my influences. Everything about those books hooked me. The pros of text and meticulous etching illustrations kept me entranced through out my early 20s. a Few names, Nestor Redondo Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala, and Moebus.”
Bubemi: When i was still a kid, my sisters couldn’t get enough of “ikebe super” when ever they get hold of the paper, or be it when they buy corn and a part of the cartoon is used to wrap it they always read it while eating the corn, sir how did you get involved with such a successful comic?
Morak: Wale Adenuga came to recruit me from Punch back in the 80s when I there as a staff cartoonist.”
Bubemi: Back then when you started with wale adenuga did you see ikebe super becoming so big?
Morak: Yes and it still could have been bigger”
Bubemi: Sir, buy the way, wale adenuga, what is he like to work with?
Morak: Working with him was a blast …jolly great time of my life I couldn’t ask for better way to spend my 20s!”
Bubemi: I understand you moved to the UK in 1990, why did you leave Nigeria? Because it looked like the grass was already green for you in Nigeria.
Morak: It was a move everyone thought was strange. It was for me a place to go and start a family and raise my children. Also some tough character building experience.
Bubemi: And graduate of Radiography from the University of Hertfordshire, with your love for comic and art why radiography?
Morak: It’s a natural progression for someone like me to read as much as I can on anatomy and physiology. Another strong interest of mine is studying anatomy. I would recommend everyone to study as much as they can about their biological make up. By the way, my first degree was BSc in design and printing technology in England also.
Bubemi:While growing up i understand you were a fan of Roy Thomas of Conan the Barbarian, what was it like to finally get to do the frontispieces for a show you loved?
Morak:I was very pleased indeed. I consider it a crown achievement event as a plus in my career.
Bubemi: While in the UK can you tell us about some of your works, i understand you did somethings with other authors and artists?
Morak: Toxic magazine. Illustrated a character called coffin sketched some batman pages, drew and painted a story of Judge Dredd and several independent comic book illustrations.”
Bubemi: Joining the UK police… How and why?
Morak: Another branch in the line of adventures. Had a very educational experience. I learnt a lot of very valuable lesson as a met officer. There is no why, that is just life”
Bubemi: Your time in the UK, how would you describe it?
Morak: Quality time with family. Leaning curve. Introduction to a wider sense of self, integrating with advancement, science and technology all around me, and seeing my kids get good education.”
Bubemi:Having a great time abroad why did you return to Nigeria?
Morak:It did not matter where I go or end up as far as I am concerned I am a cosmopolitan. Citizen of the cosmos. But I say this though I prefer the weather here.”
Bubemi:Your “comic” studio in Lagos, can you tell us more about what it’s all about?
Morak: It’s an art studio where I work. I do sculptures, paintings, cartoons and animations.”
Bubemi: Now your back home, what do you have to say about the comic industry in Nigeria, and also what do you think can be done to improve things?
Morak: I have seen that the young people are not relenting in their efforts to make things happen. What can be done apart from totally relying on sponsors is to make and market comics hard and fast. Flood the place with variety of materials and soon a new culture will emerge. It has been done before.
Bubemi: What’s the side of you the public never sees?
Morak: Luckily I am not one of those guys with personalities that need to be decrypted. What you see is what you get I have no time for drama. I have got so much to do so I am myself always.
Bubemi: Looking back, if you had the chance to change anything about your career what would that be?
Morak: Perhaps I should have tried my stuff in America, who knows I may end up with pals with Stan Lee.”
Bubemi: What can you say is your greatest achievement thus far?
Morak: My wife and children we have a tremendous relationship.
Bubemi: Your wife and 3 kids what can you say about them?
Morak: I seen to have answered that question already, they are my greatest achievement!
Thank you Mr Oguntade for your time, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you and wish you all the best in your future endeavour.