comix and rock & roll: how i created my own superheroes of color

September 23, 2011

A ten year old black boy sits in his room, huddled over an uneven stack of plain xerox paper slowly draws the form of an outstretched arm with his newly sharpened pencil. Beside him is an opened trade paperback comic. Static, issue number one, opened and primed for studying. This is his fourth time reading this particular comic and now he’s moved onto analyzing the actual line art by recreating the dynamic anatomy of the characters with his trusty number two pencil. I was that kid!

Contributor: Donovan Vim Crony

I distinctly remember being totally caught off guard at the comic shop by this new book. I’d never seen a black hero character that prominently depicted on the cover of… Well, anything! Seeing something/someone that you see everyday in the mirror and having this immediate connection to it. I mean, Bell Hooks has written some amazing work on the subject, but I feel like there is an aspect of Rock & Roll that is intertwined within that connective moment that hasn’t really been touched upon.
When I say “Rock & Roll”, I mean challenging yourself. Not even necessarily breaking the rules, but making them. Creating a reality. I’m twenty-eight now, and within the past five or six years I’ve been so consumed and liberated by the idea of creating and shaping this reality. Creators like Dwayne McDuffie and Octavia Butler have completely tapped into this power. A super power?

I love cartoons, anime, movies, and these mediums have transformed my consciousness. To be honest I feel like it’s even altered my DNA a bit too! I’ve been drawing since I could wrap my little fingers around a crayon. I really wanted to offer up that experience to young people of color today, through the creation of a coloring book. Empowered Champions of Legacy City! Yes, of course the title had to be way too long. Did you read the title of this article? Empowered is the first in a series of “coloring comix” created by me that revolve around people of color that are superheroes. It’s more of a gallery of original black heroes, that all have their own back stories and special abilities. I’ve been selling them at book fairs for the past few months and it’s been an amazing experience to actually watch someone really young resonate with your vision.

I’m someone who is very much about balance. I understand how some can shy away from sci-fi or fantasy because it’s “not real”. Sometimes it feels like all I see are negative images or all I hear are negative sounds coming out of people’s mouths. They say it’s “real talk”, but we’ve got to understand at some point that we shape reality through the promotion of visions (aural and visual). It doesn’t have to be blatantly “positive” happy-go-lucky imagery. If we can challenge the surface standard and reach beyond it, we can grow. Into what? Super powered vessels of truth! Perhaps.

And working within this structure of transformative thinking/creating I’ve made several short comix called CAMPING. CAMPING is about a group of young black punx who buy a house in a small town and begin to put on shows for bands. It’s only in it’s third episode, but I’ve already began developing the lead character, Casey, as this awkward, driven, and deep thinking individual.

It’s more than just thinking outside the box. It’s like shaping it into a sphere, but you can still call it a box if you want to. Transform yourself! Rock & Roll can be a mysterious beast. Especially when it’s in the form of a super powered Rocker that can fly! Viva punx!

* Donovan Vim Crony is a video artist, director, performer, educator and illustrator who is working and living out of Southern California. His prime focus as an artist is to create compelling and provocative imagery that resonates the truth of Rock & Roll. Find his books at