ORLANDO, Fla. – Before Jaylen Christie became a highly-recognized public relations professional, he was — and still is, he says — a “Blerd,” a Black nerd.
This week on “Black Men Sundays,” host Corie Murray interviews the creative Renaissance man to learn how the more fun-focused entrepreneurs out there can go about finding success and networking by embracing their hobbies and interests.
In addition to acting, writing and motivational speaking, Christie shows passion in cartooning, in what he said began with homemade comic books.
“So yes, I am a ‘Blerd,’ a Black nerd, and when I was a child, there were not a lot of superheroes that looked like me, with the exception of the ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers,’ which is something that I always say. Zach, the Black Ranger in 1993, season one, was my favorite Power Ranger, and then you know, LeVar Burton from ‘Reading Rainbow’ and ‘Star Trek,’ he was the voice of Kwame on ‘Captain Planet,’ the Black Planeteer from Africa, and then aside from those two characters, as a child I really didn’t have anyone else that I could identify with,” Christie said. “...I was like, ‘You know what? Let me go ahead and, you know, think of my own superheroes.’”
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At a friend’s urging, Christie recently published a comic book incorporating the characters he created as a child — “Stinkbombman and the Brain Kids, Vol. 1” — which follows a troupe of international peacekeepers who save the day without violence.
“I think my aspiration was always to be a comic book writer and a comic book illustrator, and I did not initially pursue it because, you know, when you’re growing up, sometimes you’re taught that, you know, ‘Oh, that’s not going to pay the bills so you need to choose a real job,’ hence the reason I studied journalism at Florida A&M University,” Christie said. “...That was the reason why I chose journalism, because even though, you know, I was a good writer — I wanted to write for comic books, but I was still a good writer — my parents encouraged me to pursue journalism, which I do not regret at all because it certainly paid the bills, and then when I graduated, the economy wasn’t doing well so newspapers and magazines were going under, so I made the transition from journalism to public relations.”
So, what brought things full circle for Christie?
According to him, it was during downtime afforded in the COVID-19 pandemic when he picked up the pencil and got back to making his comic book a reality.
“One of the short stories that’s included in this first volume is a story that I wrote when I was 13, the only thing I did was update it for a 2023 audience, and then one of the comic books which is featured in Vol. 1 is from an idea that I had when I was a 10th grader, and it was drawn years ago, the only thing that I went back and drew while I was in my 30s was the first portion of Vol. 1 and that’s it,” Christie said. “...When it came to finding the confidence to publish it, I just kind of feel like, you know, you look at all these wonderfully talented Black people; like you’ve got Donald Glover, AKA Childish Gambino, you’ve got Issa Rae, you’ve got Quinta Brunson who is now killing the game — and Issa Rae, I read Issa Rae’s book a few years ago and she was very frank regarding her her journey from how she got into showbusiness — and you look at where Quinta Brunson started out and where she’s at now. So it just all came down to taking the chance, you know, praying about it, trusting God and then stepping out to do it.”
Hear the full interview and more in Season 2, Episode 19 of “Black Men Sundays.”
Black Men Sundays talks about building generational wealth. Check out every episode in the media player below.