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  • Writer's pictureRaquel Hill

Morehouse Grad Creates Comic and Film's Next Big Thing - HBCU Superheroes!

Posted By: Will Moss on December 26, 2020

The creator of Surian Seed: HBCU Superheroes resoundingly rejects the notion that he is the next Stan Lee. He believes comparing himself to anyone limits him from becoming the first Maurice "Raheem" Mander. After twenty-years of meticulously creating a world inundated with gangs, superhumans, aliens, mystics, and HBCU-educated superheroes, America's social climate has created the perfect storm for Mander not only to kick in the door but knock it completely off the hinges.

As of now, black culture is in vogue and trending upward in a BIG way. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are as popular as ever. Millions of dollars are being donated to support the institutions. Also, high profile black athletes are committing to play at Howard, Jackson State, and Grambling State Universities, to name a few. It also doesn't hurt that the new Vice President is a Howard University graduate and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member. Include Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse's success and Surian Seed: HBCU Superheroes fits perfectly as a marketable commodity with unlimited potential.

Set in Trenton, New Jersey, Mander's birthplace, the comic follows protagonist and Morehouse College alumnus Isaiah Kemet's adventures. Accompanying him are his fraternal siblings, Monique (Spelman College) and Rasaman (Morehouse College), and a cast of heroes from other HBCUs. Mander, too, is a Morehouse alum and Morgan State University graduate. What makes Mander's approach visionary was years ago he saw the value of an in-depth story told through the eyes of intelligent heroes who highly invest in being themselves. Yet, Surian Seed never approaches a preachy narrative with a predictable storyline. The tale is authentic to aspects of the black experience as well as the comic book genre. Imagine, if you will, the grittiness of Shottas set loose in Harry Potter while possessing characters as wildly relatable as those in Cooley High. It makes for a great film, which is what Mander expects to accomplish.

Spurred on by what he refers to as an "Angel Investor," Mander has assembled a team of African animators whose work rivals the best in Hollywood.

It only took one look at Trenton's astonishing transformation into a 3-D animated metropolis to recognize Mander spent the money necessary for Surian Seed: HBCU Superheroes' trailer to shake up the industry. He anticipates the trailer will open doors for him and his talented cast, including feature artist Matthew Seel of Dreammakers Ink.

For now, he wants the animation studio to remain anonymous so its work can speak for itself when it goes viral. Mander fully expects to do for black animators what Spike Lee did for African-American filmmakers. To steal a line from his comic, “You can tell a Morehouse Man, but you can’t tell him much.”

Mander likens the process to that used by rap mogul Master P. He wants to maintain creative control of his project by introducing movie companies to a first-rate production that will require little to no work, except monetary support and distribution. The trailer will demonstrate his team's capabilities to deliver the product. He also plans to partner with HBCUs to produce waves of action figures in HBCU-licensed attire. Since Black Panther merchandise generated over $100 million, the collaborative could be lucrative for the cash-stricken institutions and raise their visibility worldwide.

Also, Mander possesses a project ripe with an abundance of heroes and villains for endless stories. Again, Mander's innovation appears to be before its time. Instead of releasing a comic book first in 2011, he published the Surian Seed Universe Guide, complete with origin stories and interesting tidbits. It plunges the reader into a world of page-turning fantasy until the realization sets in the Gator Pit, another moniker for Trenton, is real. While the cast of characters may be fictitious, the danger is not. Mander's authoritative speak about Surian Seed: HBCU Superheroes is disturbingly brilliant, psychologically chilling, and worthy of a panel discussion from Wizard World Philadelphia where he started, to any academic institution in America. No spoilers here! Invite him to your campus.

There is no doubt commercial success is imminent, but only time will tell which studio and HBCUs will benefit from the yearning African-Americans have for intellectual integrity regarding the urban experience in film. Hopefully, years from now, Mander will have made his mark in Hollywood for the greater good of talent, creativity, diversity, and the “little guys.” May the Force be with him.

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