(WXYZ) — As the registration for the inaugural Milestone Initiative came to a close, the program is now gearing up to nurture the next generation of comic book artists within communities that represent people of color.
The initiative is a collaboration between DC Comics, Warner Media and Detroit-based Ally. To create the splash, the organizers unveiled a mural of Static, the iconic Black superhero in Sherwood Forest.
As a proud Detroiter, Ijana Cortez is the artist behind the masterpiece and for her, the opportunity to represent her community means the world.
"I have lots of friends in the comic book community, a lot of friends that grew up as 'blerds,' what they call 'black nerds' and they love anime and they love comics, so I was really able to connect with that community," Cortez said.
The biggest challenge for Cortez was to make sure Static was represented correctly.
"It was important for me to consult my friends, consult people I knew, knew about him, know about other muralists, just to make sure I got this right," Cortez said.
But there is more to Static’s mural. The art piece at 19344 Livernois also doubled up as an initiation for all diverse aspiring comic creators to apply for a chance to attend the weeklong Milestone Summit.
Ally’s Brianna Alexander says at the event, short-listed applicants will learn the tricks of the trade from the very best.
"The selected participants will be paired with an artist, and they will be able to walk through the creation of their story. And at the end, they will be able to present that out," Alexander said.
According to Brianna, the Milestone Initiative has been well received within the Detroit community and beyond.
"We wanted to create this program to be able to shed light on the fact that there is a huge underrepresentation among the Black community, within comics and the arts in general," Alexander said.
Meanwhile, just like Static, Cortez’s message for aspiring creators is never to give up.
"It means that your dreams can come true. It means that with work, that you can get to be where you want to be," Cortez said.