TheGrio's 100: Alonzo Washington, real-life superhero creates black comic book characters

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Alonzo Washington spent his childhood drawing his own comic book heroes and creating black action figures out of clay, making afros for their heads and coming up with plot lines for them.

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Fast forward to his adulthood in Kansas City, Missouri. Washington, who started out as a political activist and gave talks to kids about violence, came to see comic books as an even better way to get their attention. After teaching himself how to become an entrepreneur, Washington then turned his childhood hobby into a full-fledged business called Omega 7 Comics, a series of independent comic books featuring black superheroes.

Washington uses his characters — such as Omega Man, Dark Force, Mighty Ace and others — to tackle heavy topics like crime, HIV and drugs. This year, Omega 7 Comics is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“I was always a big fan of comic books, but when it came to black heroes you just didn’t see a lot of them, and if there were, they were either sidekicks — they did what the white characters told them to do — or they were very stereotypical, ex-cons and athletes,” Washington said. “I wanted to bring the black hero in for children of color to look up to, and all children to look up to.”

Through Washington’s creation of several black superheroes, it’s now fair to say that in doing so, he is one.

Alonzo Washington is making history … through his socially-conscious comic books and his work being an advocate for missing black children and adults, bringing attention to an epidemic not mentioned often in the mainstream media.

As an advocate for missing black children and adults, Washington’s biggest accomplishment was his help in solving the case of “Precious Doe.”

In 2001, the body of a three-year-old child, later identified as Erica Michelle Maria Green, was found decapitated near a church in Washington’s city. It took four years for her to be identified, and for the suspects to be found and charged. Washington helped solve the case by placing several ads asking for information on her whereabouts. A family relative responded to an ad, which led to the arrest of Green’s mother and stepfather in 2005. They were later charged with her murder.

What’s next for Alonzo?

In addition to a movie about his life and work being shopped around to producers, Washington said he’s looking into selling his comic book series to a studio, to bring the characters to life through cartoons and movies. He’d also like to develop a reality show about solving crimes in urban communities.

In his own words …

“One person can make a difference. That’s what comic books are about — they’re about action, people standing up to make a difference,” Washington said. “But in real life, I try to do that as well. Comic books are an extension of my activism, and my activism is an extension of how comic books influenced me.”

A little-known fact about missing persons…

Forty percent of all missing persons in the U.S. are people of color, according to the FBI.

Q: What do you hope for in the future?

A: I hope to see my comic book creations break into the world of animation, TV and motion pictures. I still believe that the images of African-American super hero icons have not been done right in America. I plan on changing that.

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: I have a secret identity, just like a superhero.

What’s your favorite quote?

A: “By any means necessary.”

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

God, my kids, my favorite superheroes, civil rights activists and entertainers.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: My mother and great aunt.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is striving to achieve their dreams?

A: Never give up. Use “no way” as a way to achieve your goal. Never stop working on your goal. Always have faith!