Superheroes for every student
Central Kitsap educator JD Sweet knows the power of inclusion and representation. He wrote the Black History curriculum for the class he taught at Central Kitsap High School. And after more than 40 years in the classroom, he transitioned into a special assignment helping move the district's equity work forward. For his whole time as an educator, he dreamed of creating a comic book series featuring Black superheroes. Two years ago, after pursuing his dream for decades, Sweet published the first of "The Ring Masters" comic book series. This year, he's releasing issue number 3.
"I want to build stories into 'The Ring Masters' adventures that kids can relate to," said Sweet. "I want Black kids to see themselves, and I want white kids to see Black superheroes, too."
Sweet's passion is seeing children light up when they see themselves reflected in the comic. The heroes deal with issues common to students' lives, including equity, prejudice, and discrimination. He has taken his comic out to schools in the Central Kitsap and Federal Way school districts and had an incredible reception from the students.
"If my book is something educators can use in their classrooms to get students excited, that's fantastic," remarked Sweet. "These comics are about human experiences that we all share, regardless of our race."
Sweet has worked late nights, early mornings and weekends to put his comic together. The "Ring Masters" has had a growing online fanbase and Sweet was able to fundraise the expenses for creating issue number 3 from fans on Kickstarter. He is beginning to branch out into creating merchandise like apparel and bookmarks and is looking forward to beginning work on issue four.
"I want kids to read," he shared. "I want kids to dream. I want them to see themselves in these characters, and I want them to get excited about it."
After waiting so long to achieve his dream of a comic book, Sweet has this advice for fellow educators who have their own dreams: act now. "What are you waiting for? Get on it, and make it happen."