Heroes & Villains: ‘The Urban Legend’ + ‘Bloom County’ gets animated

I slept like absolute crap last night. Had I any forethought going into this column I would no rattle off a bunch of statistics about how Americans don’t get enough sleep, national averages, and so forth but I’m too sleep deprived to have done any of that research. For me, it’s never just one thing that keeps me up at night. Sure, it always starts with my brain not being able to shut off which gives way to racing thoughts and then becoming hyper aware of my own body and environment. It’s a real blast.

In my teens and 20s I was a night owl, staying up until the wee hours reading, writing, watching weird cable TV (they heyday of Adult Swim was a godsend) but as I transitioned to a straight job I gradually pivoted to become a habitual early riser. It started innocently enough with wanting to beat traffic and get a good parking spot at the office where I worked but I soon discovered that I liked how quiet the early morning was. The world just made more sense then. There’s a brief period of time before sunrise where my past life and present life overlap and I am at peace. 

Right now, I kind of wish I had a moderately successful podcast so I could tell you all about how much I love my mattress-in-a-box that I purchased after hearing an ad for it on another podcast…but (REDACTED) isn’t getting any free promos from me until they come correct with some major scratch.

Wait…why am I here? Ah yes…comics.

Advance Alert!

The Urban Legend
Josef Tzegai Yohannes (W)
Newtasty (A)
Comixology

Our friends at Don’t Hide PR sent this hot and fresh press release our way:

Award-winning creator brings a new black superhero comic series to the US!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

FEB. 3, 2022, (SEATTLE, WA) — A beautiful homage to Malcolm X makes its debut in the US! There are lessons to be learned from the internationally celebrated Eritrean-Norwegian comic series, The Urban Legend, written by award-winning creator Josef Tzegai Yohannes, with art and lettering by Newtasty, colors by Sara Machajewski and Juan Moraga Gonzalez. 

By day Malcolm T. Madiba is a schoolteacher who lives by a code of justice and honor. After the murder of his brother, he adopts the alter-ego of The Urban Legend, a crime-fighting superhero committed to justice and protecting the innocent, putting bad guys in their place to help to keep the streets of recession-ravaged Capital City safe. A superhero with and without a mask, Malcolm’s compassion and inspiration move further than all the others to truly make a difference in the world.

The Urban Legend has forged partnerships and collaborated with organizations dedicated to social and societal change, including The Nobel Peace Center, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, and The Malala Fund. The comic is used in school curriculum on three continents including Norway, Brazil, and South Africa, teaching powerful messages that include topics such as  bullying, climate change, social injustice, empowerment, and racism through special themed issues.

The Urban Legend will be hitting Comixology on March 9th which will be here before you know it! I had a chance to preview the first story arc of The Urban Legend and found it to be largely enjoyable superhero vigilante fare. The superhero origin story is one of the more universal of the modern myths, who among us hasn’t felt powerless against evils of society and yearned to do something about it? To rage against the machine for the good of their own neighborhood? To affect positive change by simply doing the right thing? 

This is a superhero that doesn’t come with the billionaire baggage like your Tony Starks and Bruce Waynes. Having a secret identity of a teach, of all things, is fertile storytelling ground and may perhaps be one of the more interesting aspects of the book. Seriously, if you know someone who’s a teacher at any level and especially a public school teacher…ask them how it’s really going out there right now and then buckle up.

The Urban Legend is one of the many reasons I love doing this column. I like finding gems like these that aren’t normally on my radar and spreading the word so others can broaden their horizons because one can not exist on Marvel and DC Comics alone.

Bloom County… The Animated Series

As of this writing the new had just broke that the iconic Bloom County comic strip was being developed into an animated series for Fox. That’s phenomenal news for some Boomers, Gen X-ers and geriatric Millennials. If you’re wondering, I cling to the Generation X designation since I was born at the absolute ass-end of the 70’s, I believe music reached its pinnacle with the Grunge movement, but also I’m young enough to have missed out on the dotcom boom and bust.

At any rate, if I were to assemble my personal Mount Rushmore of comic strip characters Opus and/or Bill the Cat would have a spot on it. Bloom County was always a must-read comic strip when I got the paper (the newspaper, there’s that Gen X thing again) it was silly enough for me to understand but not too deeply topical that it wold bore me (coughDoonsburycough). I still have my VERY well worn copy of Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989 to this very day.

Over the decades Bloom County and its many iterations have had several endings but due to the evergreen nature of the characters none of those endings ever stuck for long. In true 21st century digital boy fashion, I still read Bloom County as its creator Berkeley Breathed posts new strips on Instagram of all places. I would be tremendously underselling it if I said I haven’t been waiting for this since the Opus & Bill Christmas special A Wish For Wings That Work aired all those years ago.

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