I recently completed a project that combined the creative writing of grade school students from 826NYC with artwork from the Senior class in the Illustration Department at Parsons The New School for Design. The project began with a creative writing workshop of 30 grade school students (ages 6-11) who created a collection of new superheroes (and supervillains). We presented those stories to the Senior Illustrators at Parsons as a framework for them to begin their narrative exploration. The Senior Illustration students combined this initial direction with their own skill and intuition to create amazingly inventive works of art. Here are two favorites:
FREAK SHOW by Simon, age 8
FREAK SHOW terrorizes the universe! Superheroes beware. This shapeshifter imposter may be after your super powers next…
Do you have any powers? If so, how did you get them?
I’m a shapeshifter, and whatever I turn into, I get its superpowers. If I can’t turn into something, I stab it and eat it, and then I can turn into it!
Were you always a villain? If not, what did you do before this?
I was always a supervillain. My mother and father died when I was a baby. I do super-evil things to take care of the last of my species.
Tell us what you’re wearing.
All black with a black cape and a white skull mask with red cross bones on the forehead.
Do you have a secret identity ?
I do not have a secret identity.
What’s your crime count?
I’ve committed exactly 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,015 crimes. Not all of these crimes were the same kind. I hope to help my species.
Which was your favorite?
Murdering and stealing and also taking over planets!
Do you have any henchmen or helpers?
Yes. I have 90,000,000 henchmen. Two are named Bob and Killer. A lot of them are aliens.
Who is your biggest nemesis?
Do you have a command center or evil lair? If so, where is it?
I terrorize the universe! My secret lair is at the top of Mount Everest!
EVER BOY by Lucas, Age 8
Ever Boy is a superhero with extraordinary powers: He can turn into-and do-nearly anything. On occasion, witnesses have seen him turn into the sun, the earth, and even villains. And you know what else he can turn into? It’s so bad, I can’t even tell you…
Ever Boy has no motto; he prefers to repeat his trademark stance (arms akimbo, looking off into the distance) right at the beginning of fights against bad guys. And that is not the only unusual thing about Ever Boy. Believe it or not, he cannot eat: Instead, he gets his energy from fighting. So, for example, when people hit him in the eye, he replies, “Thank you! That gives me more power!” Like many superheroes, Ever Boy has a life mission, which is to protect the Earth from being exploded by the Bad Ever Boy and Bad Ever Girl. Working alongside his sidekick, Good Ever Girl, (Good) Ever Boy continues his struggle against his nemeses, all the while working from his headquarters in the sun. But no one ever sees him there, since they can’t look directly into the sun. The life of a superhero is often a challenge financially, but not for Ever Boy. He’s been known to morph into people with jobs (lots of them) and earns money by working. But you know what? Bad Ever Boy and Bad Ever Girl explode things like banks and take the money. That’s mean, right?
Little is known about Ever Boy’s origins. Legend has it he was once a boy named Ever, who had a magical dream, which was followed by another dream and another. Sooner or later, he turned into Ever Boy, protector of the earth. And here’s one creepy fact about our hero: One day, for reasons no one remembers, his heart turned evil. Even so, Ever Boy continues to do good things, continually fighting the good fight and protecting the earth from being exploded.
You can see additional examples on my site.