Drawing on the dynamic

Story and photos by Gregg McQueen

There were icons and comics – but thankfully, no con.
Students from afterschool and community center programs funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) have been working since March on their own original comic book concepts under the DYCD Heroes Project, a comic creation initiative that challenges middle schoolers to develop stories about superheroes, real or imagined.
On Wed., Apr. 27th, more than 150 youths gathered at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center in Manhattan to have their manuscripts reviewed by legendary hip hop artist Darryl McDaniels, who now runs his own comic book company.
Three winning teams were selected to have their concepts turned into professionally printed comic books by McDaniels’ company.
The winning schools were Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx, Staten Island School of Civic Leadership and Grand Street School of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Best known for his work with rap group Run D.M.C., the Harlem-born McDaniels was always obsessed with comic books, which he said helped him do well in school.
“Because I loved comic books, I was always reading,” McDaniels said. “In school I learned about World War II, but I read Captain America and it would take me there. When it came to stuff like science and history, when it was test time I would ace it.”
A manuscript submission.
A manuscript submission.
McDaniels started his own publishing imprint, Darryl Makes Comics, in 2013. The company has released two full-length novels with a third one in the works.
Edgardo Miranda-Rodríguez, a visionary artist and comic aficionado, was tapped as the company’s editor-in-chief.
A Bronx native with a background as a community organizer and activist, Miranda- Rodríguez brought his own ideas to the partnership with DYCD.
“I immediately saw this as an opportunity that would give young people a forum not only to create but to actually share their work,” explained Miranda- Rodríguez, who said it was important for him to publish the work of the winning entries.
“I wanted these children to see their ideas formed into something polished and professional, so they can say ‘My gosh, that was my idea,’” he remarked. “When other kids see it, they’ll want to be a part of the program too.”
Student manuscripts for the DYCD Heroes Project were developed as part of an afterschool curriculum created by the Comic Book Project, a 15-week course that develops reading, writing and art skills by having students create their own comic books.

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