KIBOI KURIA is an award winning creative, writer, producer and director. Njeri Maina caught up with him to learn more about him and storytelling. Jonte is a 10-part graphic novel with glossy pages, great graphics and an even greater storyline. The graphic novel is a monthly issue with three issues already out. It is a close-ended superhero story that leaves one enthralled as Jonte fights cartels in a bid to get his community a better tomorrow. It is a master piece of great storytelling, which reminds me of, The Punisher with its great fight scenes and well-fleshed out characters. So, when I was told I could meet the creator of the graphic novels, Kiboi Kuria, my excitement knew no bounds. Kiboi has been in the storytelling industry for over a decade. He shares how he always wanted to do a comic book that would empower the readers and community at large. He remembers being part of the writing team for ShujaazFM, a comic book that told community stories while directly addressing social issues and just how in awe he was of the level of expertise that some people in the creative industry have. In 2012, the ShujaazFm team would win an Emmy for children and young people content, an international stamp of approval for great content.\u00a0 \u201cWhat being on the ShujaazFM team taught me was that there was a market for local stories. It reminded me that there are people who wanted to see stories of people who looked like them and lived in places similar to theirs,\u201d he explains. Kiboi Kuria (centre) with fans of Jonte, a graphic novel at the launch of inaugural issue. Photo\/PD\/NJERI MAINA Kiboi talks about finding his calling in creating content and how experiences he has lived in have help him craft great and authentic characters. But is this what he always wanted to do? What did little Kiboi want to be? \u201cI always wanted to be an engineer. The idea of creating stuff always amazed me,\u201d Kiboi says with an easy laugh. \u201cI guess I became an engineer, albeit in another way, just that I am not restricted by laws of nature and material science, but of filmmaking and credible storytelling. I feel like filmmaking and storytelling is engineering new realms and realities, is it not?\u201d How it began Kiboi shares about his love for films and adverts. He always wondered how such works of art were created while growing up, and hoped to one day be able to do that too. So, when he got a chance to train to do exactly that with acclaimed Indian American filmmaker Mira Nair\u2019s Maisha Film Lab, he grabbed it with both hands. He later landed a job on the set of a local drama, Wash and Set. He vividly remembers the hard work in the writing room and the excitement of having his name run in the credits when the final product was out. He would work his way through the production ranks to the position he is now in as head of development and line production. What does a head of development and line production do exactly? \u201cAs head of development I am responsible for the content we put out ensuring it meets highest possible standards right from inception to execution and final delivery. Line production is all about ensuring a production runs smoothly, from getting the right department heads to coordinating them, thus ensuring there are no bottlenecks. It calls for trouble shooting skills plus attention to detail.\u00a0 Again, like an engineer,\u201d he explains. Kiboi is a mathematics graduate. You can tell by his timekeeping skills and his analytical mind. He talks of how he penned his first anthology, Eastlands Stories fresh from campus as he was job hunting. The stories are a microcosm of society in Eastlands, painting life and characters living there in vivid colour in a style that is reminiscent of American novelist John Cheever, yet entirely his own.\u00a0 He remembers approaching different publishers and how they all turned the book down saying that the language used was too colloquial. But how was he supposed to tell a story set in Eastlands solely in the Queen\u2019s English? He wanted to tell stories that other people like him would identify with, something not watered down in language. This is a resolve he has stayed committed to even while filmmaking. He dreamt of a day when there would be no gatekeepers, picking what is good for community consumption and what is not. This is part of the reason, 12 years later, he joined the team that was creating \u2018Yetu Digital,\u2019 a platform that directly connects creatives with the audiences while financially empowering them. Identifying with people \u201cI am passionate about storytelling. And I feel lucky to be able to explore this in all its forms from the written word to video format. What we hope to do with \u2018Yetu Digital,\u2019 is provide a platform where storytellers like me can monetise their content while enabling them to net a wider reach. The app is available on android and apple store, with content such as comics like Jonte, short stories and eventually films being hosted on the app,\u201d Kiboi explains. Kiboi is full of exciting ideas for storytellers. He talks of making a film series based on comic books and other literally works. He aims to keep creating impactful work. But what is his secret? Where does he draw his inspiration from? \u201cOne of my producers, Tanzanian Erica Anyadike, once told me inspiration is for amateurs, professionals write even with a broken hand or heart for that matter. I still rely on this maxim to this day, whether it be a client brief or a personal brief, we work to turn around ideas as quickly as possible while ensuring highest possible standards of creativity. Discipline trumps everything else in the end. And once you have put in your 10,000 hours, it gets easier,\u201d he says in conclusion.