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Shocking as it may sound, comic books have not always been the multi-million dollar darlings of mainstream media. In fact, at one time wearing an “X-Men” t-shirt was enough to get you beat up after school and almost certainly ensured that a date with the opposite sex was as far fetched as the stories encased within those four color fantasies. Like many outcasts, the feeling of hopeless, never-ending anger permeated my childhood and only though the selfless guidance of “adult misfits” was I able to find the things that helped me survive those troubled years. And while Greg Hatcher may not have been my “geek” mentor, he has been this and more to countless kids here in Seattle, offering them an outlet for their emotions through the art of comic book creation!

Over the past few summers, Greg has been a part something called the “Level 9″ program. In his words—“It’s administrated by the YMCA, and what it is, essentially, is a bridge program between middle school and high school– the program is designed for kids that for whatever academic or personal reason might find high school to be too much for them. The idea is to help them learn to be comfortable as individuals so the prospect of meeting hundreds of new kids doesn’t paralyze them with terror.”
His colleagues nicknamed the class “The Island of Misfit Toys,” which may sound negative at first, but flows perfectly with the indy vibe of Hometown Heroes. The goal of this show is not to give the finger to ECCC, but to provide an island, a haven for other like minded individuals, much like Greg has done through through the years.

In fact, like many of us, ECCC has become too big and bland for Hatcher’s class. In just three years, the show has gone from inspiring to wondering if all the trouble is even worth it to no table at all. Seriously, what kind of show won’t give a group of high school cartoonists a discounted or free table? These kids are the next generation of pros who will populate future conventions and need to be encouraged throughout these formative years in order to deal with troubles that lay ahead.
It is with this in mind that Hometown Heroes is honored to be the stage upon which these young cartoonists and authors can dazzle the Seattle comic underground with their pure, unbridled artistry!! The kids will be drawing for donations, selling copies of their comics and the class anthology “Doodle, Inc.” all night long (or until they burn out) so stop by on April 8th to peep the next generation of comic creators this city has to offer!!

Deepest thanks to Greg Hatcher and his class for joining us on this island where the strange people of Seattle can make a stand against the shadow that is stretching over our still great city.

Much Love.

Hometown Heroes head organizer
80% Studios co-publisher

Greg has written a series of articles chronicling the class’ adventures at conventions from ECCC to the smaller Olympia Comics Festival that perfectly illustrates what has been going on in the comic book trenches and how it has impacted the current state of the industry as seen through the eyes of small, independent artists.

ECCC 2013
ECCC 2014
Olympia Comics Fest 2014

And here is the wonderful article he wrote that sums up his class and why he does what he does. Truly inspiring!…/my-summer-on-mi…/