JAND is fast-paced, witty, and sarcastic in a humorous, relatable way that gives the characters more life in a reading experience. The arrangement of the text and the illustrations go together in the easy-to-read manner typical of familiar, interesting storybooks. Except, this is not a storybook but probably the most atypical comic series you’ve ever read authored by a Nigerian. While it is a very niched storyline, of Nigerian students who migrate to the UK or “jand” to continue their education including an obviously turbulent romance among other interesting plot twists, it is also very uncommon in the recent spate of comics out of Nigeria. We’ve seen and read the superhero-inspired comics and we’ve enjoyed a few rediscovered epics. A new, millennial story peppered with Pidgin and all the woes of rediscovering one’s identity in a foreign country coupled with the endless anticipation of waiting every workday each week for a new episode is all the intrigue we’ve all been looking for.
JAND was created by Modébolu Aderinokun, a “multi-dimensional artist” in 2014 as an alternative to entertaining herself. Finding expression in webcomics, Modé as a storyteller weaves a page-turner with her illustrations of the dark-skinned, expressive eight-cast characters modeling the experiences of young Nigerian adults in the UK and quite convincingly too. In a series of posts on the official comic page on Instagram, as well as in an interview with OkayAfrica, Modé cuts to the chase in her process of birthing “JAND”, answering all the many questions that arise in coming across a fresh and authentic body of art
“While schooling in the States,” she says, “I tried my best not to get used to certain American things. I avoided fast food restaurants because I didn’t want to gain weight. ( I still did, lol). I didn’t over-rely on prescription drugs to heal me whenever I got sick and I also noticed how toxic their TV channels were. This got me thinking of ways to cut that off as well.”
“In order to break my habit of watching TV I wanted to replace it with some other activity. I recalled as a kid I enjoyed reading Archie comics. I wasn’t ( and still am not) much of a superhero comic fan. I liked day to day comics about average people. I thought to myself, we are in the Internet age there has to be something out there like Archie but not as cheesy”
“I never experrerritt. I didn’t know there was such a term as ‘webcomics’. It was brand new to me. I went through a lot of webcomics. It fascinated me. I felt like I had just tapped into a new world”
“I zeroed down to two comics I read regularly. At this point, I read for entertainment. To pass time by.”
“I liked the normalcy of Questionable Content. Although it has some science fiction elements, it is basically about ordinary people living their lives. After reading the comic for several weeks, I thought to myself that couldn’t there be something like this about Nigerians?”
“Even though I thoroughly enjoyed comics like Questionable Content I didn’t relate to it that much. It was just another American media I absorbed. Also, in the Nigerian comic scene, all they addressed were superheroes and fantasies. The genre I thoroughly enjoyed was lacking and I wanted to be one of the people to fill that void.”
“I had to tell a story I was familiar with. Nigerians in a university abroad. Unlike the characters in Archie, I wanted to explore characters that were complex and relatable. They had to have a depth to them. To be honest that’s the only way I could have lasted working on it for the past ten years.”
Forming a growing connection with her audience on social, she shares random sketches of some of her quite entertaining range of characters, personalizing them in soliloquies that reflect many of our states of mind. Artfully intimate, it’s obvious that this isn’t Modé’s first rodeo. She did study Animation and Motion Picture Special Effects (SFX) at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and in a previous interview, stated that she found expression in visual arts. However, the proof of her irrepressible genius was in her launch of Studio of Modé in 2015. It is in JAND as well, a creation that belies all the intention and deliberateness of the artist.
The cast is diverse yet interconnected and a Character register on the JAND website holds all the anticipation for when each of their eight unique individualities comes into the story. Since its debut on September 21, 2020, Modé’s plan is to unravel the story strip by strip, every workday of each day. Something to look forward to reading at lunch break, maybe? The strategy is yielding amazing results as JAND is gradually poised to be the new gig for Nigeria’s millennials. So far, we’ve met Sade and her best friend Ify, Sean, Sade’s recent ex and his friend, and in personable little messages at the bottom of each strip, Modé keeps us ramped up for the next release. She creates this magic every other day till June 2021 with help from Segun Samson, a visual development artist (and another quirky genius) and a budding audience are ready to receive the 200 more comic strips that will convey the Just Another Nigerian Drama or JAND story. With new takes on what forms of creativity there are, fresh talents are emerging in Nigeria and the known ones, with different expressions than we are used to. JAND is proof that multi-faceted artistry is the new cool.