Atlantic City friends bring comic book dream to Hamilton Mall
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Every superhero universe has a backstory.
This one begins with two 9-year-olds at New Jersey Avenue School in Atlantic City.
It was 1991, and Kevin Martin and Lavar Queen knew they wanted to make comic books.
It didn't matter that neither was an artist. They had a dream and a lot of ideas.
Nearly three decades, six team members and several Comic Cons later, the group is preparing to debut their fifth book at their first solo event.
Redonkulous Entertainment will host a Holiday Fest from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Level Up Entertainment inside the Hamilton Mall.
"When I met them, this is what they talked about," said Tanya Fields, sitting outside Level Up with half of the eight-member group.
She was a seventh-grader at Chelsea Junior High when she met the two boys.
Victor Jones was also there, telling the group how their dream would never come true.
Now they make sure he's part of every event.
"Every story needs a villain," the group jokes.
Atlantic City High School would help add to the group with Nigel Frasier and Courtney Jackson, who lived in Brigantine.
Ryan Ross was in eighth grade when his older brother started hanging out with the group, and he found his place as a writer.
But it wasn't until Fields started working at Bally's years later that the story makers found an artist.
Efrain Arana III, who grew up in the Bronx, already had a partner and his own dream.
When he saw what the group had created in words, he went to work drawing.
So what was it like to have characters who had been in development for a quarter-century come to life?
"I think I was 34 years old crying," Martin said.
"I was shocked," Ross said.
Arana and writer friend James Brown already had their own comic books in the works. But the two decided to team up with the Atlantic City group.
In May 2016, Redonkulous Entertainment was born. They debuted with Bloodmoon, a member of MAVEN, Military Advanced Vigilant Elite Network.
That Arana used his talents to debut their characters before his own amazed Martin, who had a hard time not smiling while talking about the Redonkulous rise.
"It was like, 'We did it,'" Ross recalled of the first book. "It's not like we made a million bucks, but it felt like it."
They started to make the rounds at various Comic Cons.
"We're a team of eight, so people remember us," said Fields, known to the group as "The First Lady." "It really sets us apart from other indie comic companies."
"We leave an impression," Arana said.
Especially when Ross shows up in character as one of their creations.
Now, the eight are ready for their own special event, showing that kids from Atlantic City can make their dream come true.
Martin couldn't stop smiling and chatting excitedly as the team recently talked of the event.
He's hoping a lot of people will come Saturday.
He just has one message for them: "Bring you kids... and your pocketbook."