South Florida artists Benaiah Gravitz, 29, and Bobbie Jones, 33, say they are on a mission to bridge the gap between “hood” and “geek” culture with their new audio manga series, The Adventures of Benny Gravitz.
The satire comic focuses on a black youth named Benny, named after Benaiah, and chronicles his journey across the universe where, in different worlds, he runs into spoofs of well-known cartoon characters such as Princess Jasmine and George Jetson (who ends up being the victim of a bloody crime on account of his new shoes).
In an interview with New Times on Sunday at Animate! Florida, which filled the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, Jones said he and Gravitz felt inspired to mix the music they admire with the animation characters they’ve always enjoyed. “We both love good stories, and we realized some of our favorite stories come from hip-hop and anime,” he said. “We tried to combine the things we love.”
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The work offers attendees more options in hip-hop influenced tunes, Gravitz says. He and Jones overcame much of the turbulence in Liberty City to put together this audio series, which gives minorities more representation in the comic world.
They say they hope their new audio series also helps kids in their neighborhood realize that it’s okay to like “geeky” things, which they believe can be pretty cool.
“Minorities in comic books are kind of rare,” Gravitz said. “It’s important [to be better represented] because I think it motivates you when you see heroes that you can relate to.”
The duo is currently making it a point to attend conventions across South Florida as a way to tell others about The Adventures of Benny Gravitz and build up a following of fans. “Events like Florida Supercon and Animate are helping us connect with others who share a passion for creativity, stories, and fun,” said Gravitz. “They give us a real chance to share our story.”