Here are the youngest comic creators at Comic-Con 2018 – Orange County Register

Educators face challenges as they try to ignite a passion for reading and writing in young people.

“There are games and electronics,” said Stephanie Jones, a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “It is always difficult to find a way to reach these students, to make them more interested and passionate about learning to read and write.

Izzy Fergus, 11, left, Stephanie Jones, Danita Mia Valle, 12, Aaron Felix, 14, and Alex Macias, 14, all of Chula Vista at their BLAST Graphic Novel Project booth on the final day of San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Then a year ago, while attending Comic-Con International, Jones and her friend, Deidre Romero, also a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School, had an idea. With the popularity of comic book heroes and graphic novels, why not teach kids to create their own books? That’s when BLAST – Blazing Literacy Artists Super Team – Graphic Novel Project was born.

Over the past seven years, the friends have created a program that is currently offered in approximately four schools.

“I think it’s a really good idea to get little kids involved in reading, writing and drawing – that way they can enjoy writing,” said 11-year-old Izzy Fergus, who has created a story about a family of aliens who left their home. planet after the population learns of their president’s evil plan to take over their entire world. The intergalactic clan crash lands on the lawn of an Earth family’s home and now the two of them must learn to get along and live together.

Izzy was one of six students, aged 10 to 14, to attend SDCC this year.

“We’re the only exhibitors in Comic-Con history to have elementary-age comic book creators,” Romero proudly proclaimed.

“I was a little nervous coming in,” said 11-year-old Edgar Zamora. “You wonder if people will like what you’ve done, but your friends tell you to keep going.”

By Sunday, all of the comics, including Edgar’s story about a battle between two worlds, were completely gone.

Word of the BLAST program began to spread through the convention hall, and a handful of professional artists made their way to the student table at the back of the huge space to talk to the young creators.

“Yesterday Marvel artist Joshua Cassara came over and talked to the kids,” Romero said. Cassara was an artist in Marvel’s “Falcon” book.

Graphic novels made by young members of the BLAST graphic novel project, seen during the final day of San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“They come here and they give them advice and tell them not to give up,” Romero said.

Two boys, Alex Macias and Aaron Felix, both 14, have been with the program for five years and have helped guide newbies like 12-year-old Danira Valle and 10-year-old Angel Guzman on what s expect at the convention.

“It was fun and it’s so important,” Angel said as he sat down at the table to hand out cards and flyers about the program that contained information on how to donate to the program.

The small program is gaining traction in the Chula Vista District, but Jones and Romero would like to expand it to San Diego County and beyond.

The program is not funded by the district, so Romero and Jones and two other teachers worked hard to raise funds throughout the year to buy supplies, print the comics, and purchase the $600 table at the SDCC. Like most teachers, when they fail they sometimes dip into their own pockets.

That spark definitely ignited something in Aaron.

“It’s something I really enjoy and it’s a passion of mine,” said the 14-year-old, who says he now aspires to become a professional comic book creator.

“We believe this is an experience that should be open to all children,” Romero said. “They should all have that opportunity and know they can do more.”

For more information on donations, contact Jones at [email protected]

Lisa M. Horner