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13-year-old DeJuan “DJ” Strickland wasn’t seeing enough diversity in the comic books he loved. So, with the help of his very own real-life superhero — his mom — he decided to build a whole new story.
Strickland created “Tech Boy,” an all-powerful Black hero, inspired by Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther. The character, who can vanquish villains with technology, isn’t so far off from Strickland himself. “He has locks just like me, his skin color’s like me. And I’m into technology. It was almost directly inspired by me,” the teen told Al Roker during a segment of The TODAY Show.
Tech Boy came to life thanks to the unwavering support of Strickland’s mom, Sharron Prather. She hired an illustrator and editor with the stimulus check she received during the pandemic, and a superhero was born.
The comic book has since sold hundreds of copies and Strickland developed his own company, Team Tech Boy LLC, which received an investment from MasterCard. Strickland credits his mom not only for supporting his dreams, but helping him through tough spots, like bullying.
“When you start noticing behavior changes, talk to them,” Prather told Roker. “We’re very open. We talk to each other about everything.”
If all that’s not enough to get you on Team Tech Boy, just head to the reviews on Amazon. They are glowing.
“Both my son and I have read this comic book!” one parent wrote. “Love the premise as well as the concept. He was exited to see a super hero kid who looks like him. It inspires him not only in that regard but also using the S.T.E.M as foundation is everything. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Tech Boy!”
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