New comic book anthology focuses on 'Hope' in Flint

FLINT, Michigan — Jonathan Diener’s title is eclectic and runs long, much like his hair. He is a Flint resident, a renaissance artist and social activist of sorts as well as an international musician, drummer-for-hire, freelance writer, and — now — comic book writer. 

“Hope: A Comic for Flint” is the brainchild of Diener. 
Diener assembled a team of five writers paired with five artists from the Flint area to create five stories to be featured in the comic. Ranging from a focus on new love to monsters’ conversation, each story is unique but also focuses on the hope theme. 
It is, at its very foundation, atypical — avoiding stereotypes of comics filled with muscled, armor-clad heroes rocketing through the sky and focusing on Flint beyond the surface view of crime, poverty, and water. 
“Hope: A Comic for Flint” looks to dive a bit deeper into the culture that is and perhaps can be in the Vehicle City. Diener says he wants to put “something out there that might change perceptions about what this place has to offer.”
Diener has seen other contemporaries in the music scene move into the comic world and that was also an inspiration for him to dive in. “I’ve been wanting to make a jump from music to comics for years, especially after seeing my peers like Max Bemis of the band Say Anything and former record label owner Matthew Rosenberg both writing for Marvel.” 
Diener says his band Baggage has raised money for Flint causes with each of their releases, “so it only made sense to do good for our city with my favorite medium: comics.”
“We were really inspired by the comic ‘Love is Love,’ which was made after the Pulse shooting in Orlando to help raise funds for victims families,” Diener says. “We wanted to be Flint specific and I think ‘Hope’ was the right message for our community.”
“The point is to provide a story while still trying to help. The stories are Flint specific and not water specific so people can see into this community with also a positive difference being made,” he said. 
Diener moved to the city in 2002 and describes himself as a “born again comic fan.” He threw himself into the process of creating a comic learning as much about the craft as possible. He read books on writing comics, did research, attended conventions, and even took his first and only college course (a visual arts course on comics) to support the work. 
“I can’t just enjoy something, I have to really understand the way it works,” he says.
Published under Source Point Press, all proceeds raised will be donated to The Compass, a program of Michigan Community Services Inc. that helps adults with developmental disabilities in the Flint area.
For more information, you can visit the comic’s Facebook page. “Hope: A Comic for Flint” also will be on sale at the Flint Comix Fall Fest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 13, 2018, at the Flint Farmers’ Market.
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Read more articles by Jake Carah.