HBO Max, Cartoon Network & Lion Forge Prep African Superhero Series


HBO Max, Cartoon Network and Lion Forge Animation are working together to adapt the Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel series Iyanu: Child of Wonder into a 2D animated show.

Created by Nigerian filmmaker Roye Okupe, Iyanu: Child of Wonder is an epic superhero tale infused with Nigeria’s culture, music and mythology. The series follows a teenage heroine who must uncover the mystery behind her newfound powers to save her people from an ancient curse threatening to destroy humanity.

David Steward II’s Lion Forge Animation (Hair Love) is financing and overseeing production.

Brandon Easton (Transformers: War for Cybertron: Seige, Marvel’s Agent Carter) is heading up the writers’ room, with Okupe serving as the executive producer, writer and director on multiple episodes.

Saxton Moore (Rise Up, Sing Out), Lion Forge Animation’s head of production, will serve as supervising director.

Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros., said: “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. 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.”

Steward II, Lion Forge Animation’s founder, said, “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. 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 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.”

Easton commented, “As a former public school teacher in the Bronx and Harlem, I spent many years with Black, Latino and Asian teens and saw what they gravitated toward. They loved anime, manga, and things along those lines, but they all lamented that none of the characters looked like them. So when I was hired to adapt Roye’s amazing Iyanu graphic novel, I wanted the story to reflect Roye’s original vision while also injecting a sense of pride and wonder for all children worldwide, but specifically for kids who rarely see themselves reflected in a positive light or at all. Iyanu has also changed the way I see myself as a creator, with the awesome responsibility to tell an unprecedented story to a global audience that showcases the humanity of African children.”

Moore added, “Iyanu will usher in a new genre of animation around the African diaspora, and Lion Forge Animation is super excited to be a part of it. We hope to empower little adventurous girls around the globe with Iyanu’s story.”