A long time coming

Christie brings Black superhero to life in comic book

All of the characters in Jaylen Christie’s first comic book are Black.
Photo submitted
Jaylen Christie shows the cover of his first comic book publication.
Photo submitted

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Joining a fraternity is something that Jaylen Christie contemplated for awhile. After he joined Alpha phi Alpha Fraternity in 2019, a conversation that he had with one of his newly found brothers pushed him to complete another dream he’s had since childhood.

So last weekend Christie introduced Stink Bomb Man and The Brain Kids to the world. It the first volume of a series of comic books that Christie said he intends to write.

He couldn’t contain his pride in getting this one done at a time when Black history is being suppressed in Florida.

“It is definitely an unapologetic celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said. “You have three Black characters.”

Diversity and inclusion is obvious with the introduction of a Japanese-America, a character who is disabled and one who has two fathers.

Christie, 35, said he created portions of the story about the Brain Kids when he was in first grade at Apalachee Elementary School. He was a third-grader when the superhero Stink Bomb Man was brought to life. He created the rest of the story before he graduated from Florida High.

It stayed tucked away on paper until Christie was lamenting to his frat brother.

“Look at what’s happening in the world right now,” Christie recalled his friend telling him. “Black children could benefit from seeing Black superheroes. Now is the right time to publish it. Once I thought about that, I realized that he was right.”

Christie, a public relations practitioner who is based in Orlando, went to work. He came up with a comic book chucked with 52 pages drawings of the characters and 21 pages of text.

He tells the Stink Bob Man stories in three sections, titling them “Much Ado About Secret Identities,”  “Changing Faces/High-Speed Races,” and “Escape From Terror Cave.”

The comic book might have been released earlier, but “Life has a way of getting in the way,” Christie said.

After doing his homework about the production process, Christie formed his publishing company SuperFly Nerd as a LLC in January. While the comic book is his first publication, Christie said he intends to help others get their work out to the public.

His passion for superheroes and comic books goes back to his childhood. He found his favorites like Superman at the former Book Shelf on South Monroe Street.

Christie also counts the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, five children with power to transform into crime fighters, among his other favorites.

In developing his own comic book, Christie got a lot of help from people he knew like Tameka King, his former African American Literature teacher at Florida High, and friend Karen Wilson. He didn’t know people like Rodrigo Reyes and Matias Zanetti who responded to a social media appeal to assist with the comic book.

King said she recognized Christie’s story-telling ability in his writings as a teenager. She maintained contact with him and has seen some of his other writing for an unpublished novel.

“When he reached out to me to read his comic book, it was not a surprise at because I had read his novel,” King said. “His comic book was his creative genius on a different platform.”

King applauded Christie’s choice of Black characters. That could be impactful on young people who read the comic book, she said.

“I think his whole idea was kids of color could see themselves as intelligent and also have powers to save the world, too,” King said. “There is always the great White hope where people see that even if there is a child who is smart, there is a person who is not of the African American race who saves them from themselves. In this book, all these children save themselves from themselves. That’s what makes it unique and powerful.”

Another friend and former coworker, Kyle Reese, colored the pages that feature the main story Changing Faces/High-Speed Races.

Reese said he’d never worked on a published comic book before so this one got a lot of his attention. Most of his work was done during the pandemic but his penchant for details wouldn’t let him take any shortcuts.

“I knew that I was doing it for a really good friend who has done a lot for me,” Reese said. “I wanted to make it special.”

Reese, a creative producer for Channel 65 news in Orlando, has expectations for the comic book. 

“My hope is that it just blows up and he gets to live his dreams,” Reese said. “And, have tons of little boys and girls read the comic; loving his characters and hopefully they become icons in the future.”

WHERE TO GET IT: Stink Bomb Man and The Brain Kids: Vol 1 debut on jaylenchristie.com on Feb. 17. It will also be available on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. 

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