DENVER — If you ask comic book creator R. Alan Brooks, it's never too late to achieve your dream. Brooks is an accomplished and award-winning author, professor and artist living in Denver, and he's doing just that.
Brooks carries an interesting resume: a man with an advertising degree who pursued music and later worked in insurance.
"It felt like my soul was dying, and I thought, what can I do that I love? And I realized one of my first loves was comic books," says Brooks.
All it took was the right insurance sale to nourish his soul to life. Brooks sold insurance to Mutiny Café, located on Broadway in Denver.
"I sold them insurance when they opened. Then I came here at night and started writing." Brooks said shortly thereafter, he finished his first book, The Burning Metronome.
With one book, Brooks began a lifetime of fulfillment. "It led to me becoming a professor at Regis, writing a comic for the Colorado Sun, What’d I Miss? drawn by Cori Redford," he said. "It led to me doing the TED talk, which right now I think has 2.5 million views."
His work even decorates the walls of the Denver Art Museum, helping to tell the story of Nat Love, a prominent Black cowboy in the 1800s.
Brooks is living out a dream that he says didn't ever seem realistic. "A lot of my teachers when I was a kid were condescending about me liking comic books," he said.
Brooks said the lesson for the naysayers: there is more to comic books than meets the eye. They play an important role in bringing social issues into the spotlight, like many other art forms in society.
"A big influence for me is the original Twilight Zone. What people don't know, the guy who created it, was not a fan of fantasy or sci-fi. He wrote about racism, sexism, war, and he would get censored," Brooks explained.
"X-Men, during the 80s especially, drew really strongly off the civil rights struggle."
Brooks didn't build this dream alone. He credits his father for helping him find love in a medium that was otherwise shunned by mainstream culture when he was a child.
"My dad got me into comic books when I was 5 to instill a love of reading," Brooks said. Underlining the reading skills, his father also built a space of belonging and perspective. "He always made sure that when it came to toys and comic books that he found the Black version of it," Brooks explained. "Because of his efforts, it didn't feel strange to me, I didn't feel an absence."
Brooks' soul-saving mission now isn't awards or accolades. It's bringing perspective to the spotlight using creative storytelling to ensure everyone is engaged in the understanding of big social issues.
"I feel like art at its highest, is being able to experience someone else's life. Experience perspectives and grow in empathy," said Brooks.
You can find his work and future projects by following along at www.ralanwrites.com.
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