By Nate Lombardi |
Nate, a 9 1/2-year-old boy moves to Pennsylvania from the suburbs of New Jersey. He is a hyperactive kid who keeps his parents on their toes. He is not allowed to play Nintendo and doesn’t even own one, he does have the Atari 1600 and maybe a dozen games.
He’s an eccentric young boy. When he was in kindergarten he did a talent show; kids were playing piano or violin, doing contortions, and speaking different languages. This is where Nate and his best buddy Fred lay down a gymnastics mat and do somersaults and fake ninja fighting for an excruciating five minutes with great pride. Fred and Nate turn to the audience, including their devastated parents (heads in their hands), as their sons puffed out their chests like they just opened Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. Mind you, Cirque du Soleil won’t come around for another decade or two. But The two little Italian boys were convinced that this would be the performance that started it all.
A well-meaning kid who hasn’t grown into his lips yet, spends hours playing with his Star Wars figures because his mom won’t let him get G.I. Joe or any fake guns. Like many White kids from the suburbs and kids from the 80s he loves Indiana Jones, The Princess Bride, Goonies, Star Wars and Saturday morning cartoons. Cartoons that range from Gummy Bears and Scooby Doo to Dungeons & Dragons and Super Friends. His father earns just $19,000 to support three kids as a teacher. And his mom babysits the neighborhood kids for some extra money to buy Rice-A-Roni and apple juice.
So even though Nate wants to take karate and do flips like Spiderman they just can’t afford it. And more importantly with this toothy frenetic ball of energy they’ve decided to wisely put their money towards soccer, baseball, basketball, and swimming. They even tried to get him guitar and piano lessons but Nate couldn’t focus. The music teachers said that they were wasting their money because Nate just won’t practice… he could barely even sit still. His loving parents have a strong network of friends from their 1970s flower-child camp counseling days.
Even though Nate’s dad read comic books as a kid. Nate doesn’t really have the attention span or knowledge (not to mention they can’t even afford them). Even without the comics as a guide, Nate’s favorite superhero is Spiderman. He pretends to swing down the road as his parents drive in their VW bug and ratty old station wagons. He listens to LL Cool J, Stevie Wonder, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince religiously. Oh, and the oldies that constantly plays from his mom’s record player.
Nate’s a pretty damn lucky kid. In this time nerd culture was a whole different thing and Nate’s not part of it (that’s reserved for bookish smart kids). That being said, he’s always wanted to belong and connect with people. He’ll go on to join theater in junior high and high school, which he’ll love tremendously because of the connections he makes. While a good athlete, he’s not exactly cool (even though he really really really wants to be.) He starts doing productions at a local liberal arts college, and loves being around older kids… And the girls. Always with the girls. Luckily Nate manages to get into college (Muhlenberg in Allentown, Pennsylvania) where he majors in theatre arts. For the first time in his life he finds a place where he belongs. He’s part of a group of testosterone filled theater arts majors that are actually cool because they’re creative and into something. Now he wants to be able to give the joy that he felt from watching a Gene Kelly movie to other people. He wants to create, share his big heart, and change the world. He always was highly empathic and cared about the environment, underserved kids and first Nations people. Now he knows that art can change the world.
Nate skips senior week to work on an Italian cruise ship as a singer right out of college. And then after a quick stint in Vermont he moves to Jersey City and goes on a children’s tour to get his Equity card in a show called Amelia Bedelia, The Baby, and Other Story Books. He moves to New York three months after 9/11, where he does some pretty cool stuff. He performs on Broadway stages with some incredibly talented people you might know, invents a new genre of music, plays bit parts on TV shows and does a lot of bartending and captaining for catering companies.
In 2011 Nate ends up volunteering in an underserved school in Brownsville Brooklyn. In 2012 Nate and his fancy award-winning best friend shoot a music video about bullying that gets some traction and empowers a group of kids that had been expelled from their public schools. After the video Nate is lit up, it’s his lightbulb moment. He knows that the kids that he’s been working with are his people. They’re different learners, full of energy, and some of them weren’t as lucky as him with a really loving supportive family.
The next six years are filled with schools in Harlem, The Bronx, Far Rockaway and Flint, Michigan trying to find the best way to put some “spinach on kids’ pizza.” He’s on a mission to make these young adults better off by going to places of interest where they want to be. Whether that’s YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc. He gets into the social impact space pretty heavily and after visiting the United Nations a bunch It’s confirmed to Nate that storytelling and narratives are the best way to reach these kids.
Nate was always a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel, and DC. But when Black Panther and Wonder Woman came out, they blew his mind.…and those of the kids’.
He starts thinking how can Hollywood and Playstation create something participatory like the kids are into?. How do we give people what they love to watch and participate in? What if Wakanda was Rwanda? And it was historical fiction like Assassin’s Creed?
This is where the idea for a comic book came about. This is where Comic Book Curious and the Legion of Eccentrics were born.
Hi, it’s me, Nate now that I’m done with the third person shtick let me get realz: I’ve been galvanizing some amazing people who are interested in the same thing. I’m creating a space that is fun, safe, and totally kick ass for creators and fans. I think that we can literally save the world while dreaming and gaming; by creating together. That sounds corny doesn’t it? Well if you’re reading it on the screen, it might sound corny. But in real life it’s totally going to kick ass. Welcome to Comic Book Curious where fans and creators come to learn and appreciate each other while creating and curating. Trolls are not welcome here. Have an awesome time trolling elsewhere -I know that you are just sad… So I’m sending you a big bear hug. But troll elsewhere please. Nothing but love here.