Student takes over Twitter with “edgy” Arthur reimagining

Collyn Burke

In 2017, a viral tweet is like gold. Now, after over 61,000 retweets and nearly 200,000 likes, Daniel Nkoola’s got one.

Radio-television-film sophomore Nkoola’s viral tweet idea came to him­ — as do many great ideas — in the shower. Combining elements from the CW’s “Riverdale,” a show that turns the “Archie” comics into a teen murder mystery, with the classic, albeit meme-worthy “Arthur,” Nkoola created a series of photos that portrayed the cast of “Arthur” as edgy millennials. After positive reaction to the photos, Nkoola followed up with a fake trailer, where the cast tries to solve the murder of “Muffy.”

“The thing about Arthur in particular is that it had become, over the course of the last two years, kind of an essential text so to speak on the platform (Twitter),” Nkoola said. “It had spawned not one but a handful of memes which was evident that a huge user-base on the platform was familiar with it and people would get the joke.”

After coming up with the idea, Nkoola immediately contacted fellow radio-television-film junior and friend Ukairo Ukairo, who’d recently had a viral tweet of his own after BET reposted his Durag Day video. Though Ukairo was unfamiliar with “Arthur,” he said he was excited to finally get a chance to work with Nkoola.

“I had never heard of Arthur,” Ukairo said. “I had seen that fist meme once so I was like if it’s that popular then there’s potential here to do something pretty cool and make people happy.”

After getting Ukairo on board, the pair immediately started reaching out to friends and classmates to get their cast of characters. By the night of Oct. 28, the group had gathered and was taking photos in front of a dark and ominous looking PCL. Grant Kanak, who portrayed Buster, said that on the night of the shoot, everyone was full of energy.

“Our dynamic I guess I would say felt very electric,” Kanak said. “We jumped from location to location very quickly throughout the night.”

While he was originally somewhat shy of the idea of collaboration, Ukairo said the crew all worked together very well and bounced ideas off each other as the night went on.

Once the shoot had wrapped, Ukairo and Nkoola immediately went to work to edit the photos. Nkoola, who has been researching viral tweets over the past year, had a strict plan for posting the photos online that included specific time periods and who would post what.

Within a day of the pictures being posted on Nkoola’s account, they had reached over 10,000 likes on Twitter and had been retweeted by both Riverdale’s Cole Sprouse and Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser.

While the tweet was receiving a magnitude of positive attention, Nkoola said not being able to respond to each and every comment was difficult for him.

“There was that element of okay this means that maybe you won’t get to read everything and you maybe won’t get to reciprocate all of the love that you’re getting,” Nkoola said. “I just had to trust that, okay maybe the trailer then is the thank you, people asked for more and we were able to deliver.”

Nkoola, while thankful for the positive reaction to the project, said he can’t see himself doing any other “edgy” remakes. Instead, he said he hopes to continue using Twitter as a platform for his video work and continue making a name for himself.

“I want to get it out sooner rather than later so that it’s like Daniel Nkoola makes general video content as opposed to children’s cartoon reimaginings specifically,” Nkoola said. “The sooner I put something else out that is moderately successful the better … so that the recent influx of followers I‘ve gotten have a clearer idea of what the expect from the account.”