Blog: Whats On My Mind

For the past few months I’ve been trying to collect comic art for a great cause, the Comprehensive Breast Care Center of New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital.

The center is a place where women with breast cancer can receive cutting edge treatment in a supportive and soothing atmosphere.

Breast cancer effects women of all ages and races, and unfortunately, inflicts a great deal of terror in those that have to face the disease head- on. That includes the children.  Often they find themselves facing that fear with their mothers, some times sitting in the waiting area while she meets with a doctor.

The goal of the Institute is to create a place where women can feel inspired and empowered, and gain the strength they need to forge forward on their battle to overcome the disease. They also want the children to find some cheerful or uplifting distractions while they wait.

That’s why they asked me to help put together a permanent exhibit of comic art to adorn the walls of the center. These would be images of super heroines and heroes, as well as comical characters to lighten the spirits of all who walk through their halls.

To accomplish this task I’ve been soliciting donations of original comic art, as well as digital images (300 dpi to allow prints to be enlarge and displayed).

Comics are a popular medium for entertainment — but they're also a powerful tool for healing.
So, please help.

For further information, please email me at this address, or call:
718-601-0371.

Thank you,
Alex Simmons


IMAGINE THAT
by Alex Simmons

A short time ago, someone asked me if I considered my Creating Comics Workshops as literacy programs.

The answer I gave could easily be the death knell for someone who actively takes these programs into school systems all over the country, and abroad.  Still, I paused a beat or twp before replying, “No. They are not.”

True, comics contain both words and pictures, and they are perfect to help reluctant readers, and those who tackle English-as-a-second-language challenges.  They also make major novels and historical chronicles far more digestible when all that verbiage is broken down into images, dialog balloons, and caption boxes.

No argument.

But the goal I strive for in my workshops is far more valuable – in my eyes.  I work to simulate and validate a young person’s imagination.

Picture this: a pudgy, chestnut hued boy, muddling his way through life.  He is the product of a loving but impoverished home.  And because of his mind, he is in classes with middle and upper middle classed children.  Youngsters with two parents, and little or no financial woes … at least none that he can see.

The world promises he will not achieve much because of his background and skin color, and financial limitations.  But his mind tells him otherwise. 

Despite poor health, and social welfare status, his mother encourages him, “If you work for it.”  His grandmother, raised in the south, during times when back of the bus was not the cool place to be, when everyone knew the “N” word meant something less than human.  She told him otherwise – and had proved it with the accomplishments she was able to make despite the era that had surrounded her. “We built the platform this high” she’d said metaphorically, “ You stand on it and go further.”

And the comics he read promised fascinating possibilities, and incredible discoveries.   His mind soared like the birds and the rocket ships.  He rode the plains, he explored the ocean depths; and in his mind all things were possible.

So he dreamed and imagined and planned for the day he would become … somebody.

And in doing all of that, he found a use for literacy, mathematics, science, and so much more.

See, if a child cannot imagine a future, their future, then much of life becomes meaningless.  For many it is hard to find the reasons to work towards tomorrow, if they don’t start believing in themselves today.  If they don’t believe their actions now can make tomorrow even better.

My programs are about imagination, outside the box thinking, creating something out of nothing!

And often, that makes it possible even for an adult to get up and face the morning with hope.