For too long, the comics world left Black people out of mainstream stories. Except for a few comics, namely Black Panther and a few other titles, Black representation is virtually unheard of in comic books.
Basi Affia is one artist helping to change that. Born Aniekanabasi White, Basi Affia launched Sensiil Studios in early 2022 in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. Like many American artists, Basi Affia was tired of not seeing positive representations — or any Black representation at all — in the stories he was reading or watching.
“Lord of the Rings is my favorite movie, but there’s zero black people in there,” Basi Affia, 25, noted.
So far, Sensiil Studios has published four titles since opening. The most popular title, REM: Shadow Work, sold 80 copies within just a few months. This story follows Chlomi Mendel, who “acquires the ability to perceive people’s personal demons and works with a benevolent spirit to free humanity from metaphysical oppression.”
All of his stories revolve around “Pan-Afrikan science fiction and fantasy.” He also uses Black, Latino, and Asian actors to voice his characters.
“Each story has its own inspiration,” Basi Affia said. “I try to bring life lessons and positive influences into the community and into the city.” His goal is to produce entertaining and thought provoking content.
Breaking Down Barriers, One Comic at a Time
Sensiil Studios will release a motion comic next year. Basi Affia is also working on a few graphic novels.
For a city with a Black population of less than 30,000, launching a comic book company in Des Moines is iconic and historic. As far as Basi Affia knows, there are no other comic production companies—Black or non-Black owned—in the city.
“I’m bringing the minority creative [community] together in Iowa,” Basi Affia said.
Affia says Marvel and Black Sands Entertainment are two production companies that inspire him. With his enthusiasm and talent, he’s on the right track to be just as influential as these two studios.