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Transforming historical figures into Heroes of Color




Still image from David Heredia's animated short, Gaspar Yanga - Heroes of Color episode two
Still image from David Heredia's animated short, Gaspar Yanga - Heroes of Color episode two
Still image from David Heredia's animated short, Gaspar Yanga - Heroes of Color episode two
David Heredia, at his home studio
Still image from David Heredia's animated short, Gaspar Yanga - Heroes of Color episode two
A perfect photobomb by David Heredia's daughter - Elisa


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Comic books and superhero stories have changed from a few years ago. It used to be that if you were a fan, looking for a character, comic or an action figure about a superhero of color, you didn't have a ton of choices.  

But now there are a few more options. Characters of color have pretty important supportive roles in Marvel's Falcon and War Machine and DC's Cyborg. This week “Black Lightning” debuted on the CW network. And the highly anticipated film, “ Black Panther,” is set for release in February. 

But this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, a different type of hero will be featured. Local artist and animator David Heredia is screening his Heroes of Color series. It's a series of educational videos about the contributions of underrepresented historical figures. 

The first in the series was about the famed military unit known as the Harlem Hellfighters. 

And Gaspar Yanga, known as one of the first black liberators in the Americas by leading one of the most successful slave rebellions during the early period of Spanish colonial rule.

Take Two's A Martinez went to Heredia's Santa Clarita home studio to talk to him about it. And we asked him where he got the idea for the series. Itt began with a trip to a local comic book shop for his son. 

I walked into the store with my son, and we were searching for Black superheroes, and this was before the buzz of the Black Panther, so there wasn't a lot of interest in showcasing Black superheroes ... so I  think I found one or two. So what I decided to do, when we left the store and when I went home I started searching online to see if I could find some superheroes of color, and when I googled that, what came back were real people ... and that was what sort of started the whole Heroes of Color series. 

Heredia's work has received a lot of positive attention, and he says that he's working hard to produce more animated shorts, which he hopes will get picked up by streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, or even better, become part of an educational system for schools across the nation. 

But even if it doesn't happen, he said that he feels pride in what he's created, because it's so important to tell these kinds of stories.

It's our moral responsibility as creators to tell these stories and to get these stories out there, because for too long we've been lacking in this representation ...