A Cop And His Super Heroes
Growing up, Christopher Caravalho dreamed of drawing comic books. Then life came along, including a career with HPD. But he finally fulfilled that dream with the release of his first comic book, ‘Aumakua Guardians of Hawai‘i
As a little boy in Hawaii, Christopher Caravalho loved to draw. He also loved comic books. He dreamed of one day creating comics with imaginary super-heroes and action-packed adventures. Well, at age 43 that dream finally came true.
So what took so long? Life. After graduating from Hawaiian Mission Academy in 1989, he got married, became a dad and joined Honolulu Police Department. So that dream, as he puts it, went onto the back burner. But a few years ago, he decided to turn that fire back on, and last September released his first 32-page Hawaii-based comic book, ‘Aumakua Guardians of Hawai‘i.
As a cop going on 17 years with HPD, Caravalho dedicates his life to protecting the community. He’s the one who answers our calls for help and doesn’t hold back from chasing the bad guys — just like the superheroes he’s created, except, of course, they are fictional and have superpowers that don’t exist in the real world.
“‘Aumakua, in the Hawaiian culture, are protectors, ancestral spirits, family or personal gods,” explains Caravalho. “The story begins by explaining that the ‘Aumakua Guardians of Hawai‘i were formed when the first natives came to the Islands to protect the land and its people. Now, in the present day, a new team has banded together to carry on the tradition of their predecessors. It’s the first multicultural incarnation of the ‘aumakua. It represents the different faces of Hawaii coming together, and I think that was important for me to put out there.”
Among the main characters are:
• Royal Hawaiian Guard – He’s a fierce warrior and brilliant tactician who’s looked to as the leader with superior speed, healing, strength, endurance and agility.
• GeckoMan – A reformed thief turned superhero, he wears a special gecko suit that gives him extraordinary strength and agility.
• The Mighty Moke – Also known as Hawaiian Supahman or FalseKrakKanak, The Mighty Moke has a special mythical artifact that gives him incredible power, including strength, speed and flight.
• Super Size Sole – A tender giant, Super Size Sole has the ability to increase in size and strength. He also has a black belt in judo and is an experienced boxer.
• Phantom Surfer – A mysterious hero and protector of the Pacific Ocean. He rides a 12-foot wooden surfboard that can propel through air and water at high rates of speed.
• Sistah Shark – A student at Kailua High and part-time employee at Sea Life Park, this wahine can transform into a shark-like beast and has the ability to telepathically communicate with various forms of sea life.
• Portuguese Man-O-War – One of the smartest guys in the world, he has extensive knowledge of weapon design, genetic engineering, martial arts and military combat.
• Seoul Hot – A student at McKinley High and costumed crime fighter, Seoul Hot is a foulmouthed fire-starter with the power to control flame. She also is an expert roller skater and has a brown belt in tae kwon do.
“My first hero was GeckoMan, and my inspiration for that was this gentleman named Sam Campos,” says Caravalho. “He’s an artist/creator, and to me he’s the guy who took the idea and actually made a superhero based in Hawaii (known as Pineapple Man). He nailed it way back in the day, and I wanted to do what he did, but at that time I was starting a family and didn’t have the time for it.
“Then, within the past four years, I was going through some personal things and got to a point where I said, ‘You’re either going to do it or you’re just going to put it as a regret,’ and I didn’t want that to happen. So I made it my mission and went for it.”
Caravalho wrote the story and created the characters, but quickly realized he needed help in order to get it done quicker. He teamed up with co-artist Kristopher Lohman of Kaneohe, and hired a colorist and letterist. He also went through Kickstarter to pitch his project to the public for funding support, and was able to raise the $4,000 needed for all his expenses.
It took about a year-and-a-half from beginning to end, and Caravalho is quick to acknowledge others for helping to make it happen. There are 300 books in print, with the first copies going to those who made pledges on Kickstarter. It’s also available at Collector Maniacs in Kaimuki, online at mana-comics.com and through Caravalho, who can be reached on his Facebook page.
“This is my childhood dream, and to see people make pledges, especially from those who didn’t know me, that blew me way,” he says. “I also had some family and friends, but when I had people from the Mainland, including Maryland and Pittsburgh, that switched my gear a little bit. I thought, you know what, I want them to learn about our lifestyle here. My characters speak pidgin, and I wanted to make sure they could understand, so at the back I included a Pidgin-to-English dictionary and loaded it up with definitions of what’s happening.
“I’ve been also selling copies through word of mouth. People will come up to me and say, ‘I heard you’re selling a comic book,’ and it’s been really cool.”
Initially, Caravalho planned to complete just one comic book and figured he could finally check it off his bucket list. But he enjoyed it so much that he decided to keep going. He’s already working on his second comic, to be called Ghosts of the Past, and plans to expand his team of super-heroes.
And just as he did with the first issue, he’ll be going through Kickstarter again in March and hopes to have his second comic release this summer.
Caravalho, whose ethnic background is Portuguese, Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Danish and English, was born in California and moved to Hawaii at age 3. It was around that same time that he started drawing and became a huge fan of superhero cartoons, with Superman as his favorite. But growing up, he wasn’t allowed to have comic books. “I had to rummage for loose change in the couch, sneak outta the house and pedal my chubby okole past the wonderful smells of Craig’s Bakery in Kailua and on to 7-Eleven to sift through the comic book spin rack,” he notes. “Then, make the purchase, sneak back in the house and hide it under my mattress until the coast was clear to read it.”
Now, Caravalho’s dad, Archie Blake, a retired civilian high-voltage electrician for the military, is not only supportive of his son’s hobby, but proud of it too.
“When I mentioned to him I was trying to raise money for this, I didn’t know what his response was going to be, but he was so supportive,” says Caravalho, who even included Dad in one of the drawings on Page 25. “I couldn’t believe it. This is total opposite from the man I used to hide from to bring my comics in. Now he’s making T-shirts out of my art and talking to people about it. So it was nice to see him soften over the idea of me doing something I love.”
Caravalho learned to draw on his own, and despite the high-tech world we live in today, he still uses pencil and paper. He recalls his first drawings were comics of his friends as superheroes fighting bad guys on the playground. And while his stories are fictional, he plans to incorporate flashbacks of Hawaiian history into his comics. He also wants to keep it Hawaii-based.
“Drawing is a passion, a hobby,” says Caravalho. “I’m not here to make a million bucks. I’m here to try to write good stories, tell good stories, have good art with it and get people excited.
“As a kid, if I saw Hawaiian superheroes flying around where I live or helping somebody in the area I’m familiar with, that would blow me away.
“I really wish I can keep the ball rolling and figure out ways to ensure that it’s not just one issue. That I can keep going to make more.”