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Meet Kingsley Okoronkwo "Kaycee" – Cartoonist and Illustrator!

Kaycee is a cartoonist, animator, writer, and illustrator of our Ijapa comic book which is available to pre-order here.

He is the coordinator and president of the Cartoonists Union of Nigeria (CARTUN) and was previously secretary of the Cartoonists Association of Nigeria (CARTAN). He studied Graphic Arts at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He worked with Punch Newspapers as a Senior Cartoonist between 1991 and 2001. He headed the team of animators behind Funtimes Television Series, a syndicated children’s television program in Nigeria. He was a stringer for several newspapers in the country, and his popular cartoon strip ‘NUTS’ was the first syndicated cartoon strip in Nigeria. Kaycee is also the author of ‘MEMOIRS’, a weekly pantomime cartoon that was featured in the Nigerian Punch and Champion newspapers. He has won several awards, including the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME) in 1998, and has been twice runner up of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) in 1992 and 1998. He also won a Red Ribbon Award for HIV/AIDS awareness in 2000.

At present, Kaycee is a principal partner in Foresight & Kaycee Communications, which has consulted for national and international organisations, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) Ibadan, Imo State Government (Nigeria) and UNAIDS.

Kacey may be contacted here:

Mobile: 00234 +(0)8023209359, (0)8032507181



Facebook: kaycee okoronkwo @kayc

Ijapa Books: When did you first discover an interest in comics and why?

When I was in primary school, some classmates used to bring cowboy comics to class, and I developed an interest in them. I started buying my own comics, redrawing them, and selling them to classmates. Later on, I started adapting movies and novels into comics. I started drawing the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and the book Things Fall Apart, but unfortunately, I never got around to finishing either of them.

Ijapa Books: Did you always want to be a comic illustrator and what were some of the initial challenges that you experienced?

I did not originally start out to become a cartoonist initially. Like most Nigerian kids in those days, I wanted to be a scientist and an inventor specifically. But my inability to pass mathematics, which was a prerequisite for any science course, put paid to that dream. I decided to study law instead, thinking I was a natural artist and did not need any formal training in this regard, but thank God for my father, who insisted I train in the field I loved. I studied graphic design because cartooning was not an option in those days, and I taught myself.

What comic(s) did you read as a child growing up, and what are the popular comics that Nigerian boys and girls read today?

I started with cowboy comics, as I said before. I then discovered Marvel, D.C. comics, and later on, I came in contact with Tiger, which featured Billy’s Boots and Roy of the Rovers, etc. In my early teenage years, I fell in love with Nigerian comics such as Fun Times, Ikebe Super, Super Story, and Binta. Today, most comics in Nigeria are for adults; the only popular children’s comic is Supa Strikas.

What do you know now that you wished you had known when starting out?

Marketing: When I started professional cartooning with Lagos-based Punch Newspapers, my cartoons became very popular, and I was getting hundreds of pieces of mail daily. When company CEOs came to the Punch offices, they would request to see me, including a former governor of Anambra State. I should have used my popularity back then to break into corporate Nigeria, which is much more lucrative for creatives.

What advice would you give to a young person interested in becoming a comic illustrator?

First of all, you have to be prepared to give it your all – time and energy. Brainstorm to discover what makes your creative juices flow and brings out the best in you. For me, sitting in a park watching nature, when I’m using the toilet, or funnily enough, sitting alone with a bottle of beer in a noisy beer parlour helps my creativity. It is also important to discover the best way to promote your work to your audience. If nobody gets to see or enjoy your creative work, in my view, it becomes wasted!

What is your favourite comic of all time and why?

It has to be Tin Tin. The storylines are always super, and I love the simple free-flowing strokes of the illustrations. They are also educational. Before we had the internet, I learnt a lot about the world by virtue of the countries Tintin visited. Asterix is another comic I love so much. Funnily enough, they are both Belgian.

Did you have a formal education to become a comic illustrator, or did you learn on the job?

I did not have formal training to become a cartoonist. I was naturally inclined to draw, and when I came in contact with comics, I started drawing comics in primary school. That would be around the age of nine. In my last year in secondary school, I wrote to our local newspaper in Owerri (Statesman) asking to draw comic strips for them. They agreed, and that was how my first strip (Zonga) started gracing the leisure page of the Sunday Statesman. I moved to Lagos and introduced another strip (‘NUTS’) to Punch Newspapers before I got admission to read Graphics at Yaba College of Technology.

What is your favourite Nigerian dish?

I love fufu with vegetable soup.

What popular games do Nigerian children like to play?

PlayStation is popular here among the elite who can afford it. There are also a lot of free games that children play like suwe, hide-and-seek, sudoku, and sports such as football that are free!

What tourist attraction would you recommend to visitors to Nigeria?

There are a lot of them. I will start with the ones in my vicinity here in Owerri. There is Nekede Zoo, where you can see wild animals, and Oguta Lake, where you can play a lot of water games. There are beaches in Lagos and other coastal states. In the north, there is the Yankari Games Reserve and Kajuru Castle in Kaduna State.

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