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Saturday 15 June, 2024
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Who was Lashawn Colvin? Montgomery comic book creator Dies at 37

BY Sharmeen Hussain Oct 05, 2022. 07:17 pm UPDATED: Oct 05, 2022. 07:17 pm

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The phrase “beautiful soul” sums up the life and work of Montgomery comic book artist, writer, and editor Lashawn Colvin, whose brand and creation is called “Beautiful Soldiers.”

Colvin’s funeral will take place at Alabama Heritage Cemetery on Friday at 2 p.m. Colvin passed away on Monday at the age of 37. You can leave condolences and memories at www.AlabamaHeritageFH.com. It is unknown what caused the death.

Colvin, a native of Fort Hood, Texas, was raised in a military household. She was born and raised in Montgomery. She had toured the globe as a young child along with her brothers and parents Timothy and Denita. After graduating from Jefferson Davis High School, she continued her education to hone her writing and comic book drawing skills. She produced a podcast, edited comics for the RedBand line-up at Short Fuse Media Group, and briefly ran the Montgomery comic book and game store Comics & Geeks.

Friends and fans went to social media Tuesday to mourn her passing:

“Beautiful person and a beautiful heart… You will be missed,” wrote Geoffrey Gwin.

Calvin Simmons said Colvin was one of the best and most talented people he’d met.

“Rest in peace, beautiful,” wrote Jorel Lonesome. “I am saddened and you are missed. You are an inspiration to many independent creators and the aspiring creators of tomorrow.”

Kendra Hale said the world is suddenly darker, and described Colvin as a whirlwind and a force that shone on the world.

“Stunned by the loss,” wrote Ken Vaughan. “Such a powerful creative voice and advocate.”

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Colvin through the eye of a journalist and friend

I’ll never forget our initial conversation. In 2017, Montgomery was preparing for the inaugural Gump City Con comic book event. When I came across her name while looking for nearby artists who might attend, I contacted her. Fortunately, she replied, and for the following five years, we communicated, kept in touch, and moved in the same circles.

By 2018, Colvin had graduated from being a regular attendee to a special guest with a booth at Gump City Con.

Lashawn Colvin

“I’ve always been really big on female empowerment and girl power, and sisterhood,” Colvin told the Advertiser in 2020. That year, she made national headlines as a Black woman opening her own comic shop in the South, on Perry Hill Road in Montgomery. Getting it open by Halloween wasn’t easy, especially while still dealing with the death of her mother in April.

“I know the struggles of trying to get seen,” Colvin told the Advertiser in 2020. “It’s very important for my store to represent the community, where we try to help each other get ourselves out there.”

Colvin took up a unique project with the Montgomery-frequented alternative rock band Pink for President from Montevallo on top of everything else that was going on in 2020 (including the pandemic). For their song “Win or Lose,” she had the band’s members depicted in a scene from a stage performance using her “Beautiful Soldiers” figures. It was the “Beautiful Soldiers” theme song, according to Colvin.

After two more years, Colvin’s life had undergone significant changes.

Colvin told me she had made the difficult decision to close her comic book shop when we spoke in July of this year. She was looking for a new location because the one she had required too much money to bring a much-desired smoothie bar addition up to code.

Colvin’s life was really taking off in the comic book world. She had just signed a publishing agreement with Scott Comics for “Beautiful Soldiers.” She collaborated with a large number of independent creators in addition to being a comic book author, illustrator, and editor. She even served on the board of trustees for this year’s Urban Nerd Con, a pioneering convention in Montgomery that highlighted Black performers, writers, and other creatives. Colvin was honoured to speak on a panel about women in comics at the convention.

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“My experience has been good in comics,” Colvin told the Advertiser in June. “Everyone has been supportive and wanted me to succeed.”

Unexpectedly, Colvin’s literary talent began to take off when she was a little child.

When she was younger, she reportedly filled shoeboxes with her own handwritten “Power Rangers” stories instead of watching live-action television shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Xena: Warrior Princess” or anime like “Sailor Moon.”

“As far as I can remember, even when I was a child, I was into cartoons and comics and drawing,” Colvin said in 2017. “My favorite comic book is actually a manga, and it was turned into an anime back in the day, called ‘Sailor Moon.’ I am a humongous ‘Sailor Moon’ fan.”

She received the urge to create a scene from “Sailor Moon” while she was viewing one of her taped episodes in the sixth or seventh grade.

“I got a piece of notebook paper and a blue pen. I paused the VCR, sat down in front of my bed and I just started drawing exactly what I saw on the TV,” Colvin said. “Lo and behold, that’s how I found out I could draw.”

Colvin began writing and creating the illustrations for her “Beautiful Soldiers” series five years ago. It tells the story of four adolescent girls who are of an elemental race.

“They are hybrids. They’re half human, half elemental,” Colvin said. “They each genetically control their own element — earth, air, fire and water. Besides trying to save the earth, juggle boys, go to high school, basically they’re trying to find the fifth element before the bad guys can get to it. The fifth element is supposed to be very powerful. Like on the power level of God.”

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She spoke this year of a development in her “Beautiful Soldiers” influenced by her followers after securing a publication agreement for it. Even though she already had members who were white, Asian-American, Native American, and Black, her four-person hero squad now included five members, adding even more diversity. Some “Blerds” didn’t think her Black hero Terra was “Black enough” (Black nerds).

“She’s a lighter toned woman,” Colvin said of Terra. “She doesn’t have the regular Afro-centric kinky, curly hair… To some people, she just wasn’t Black enough. I used to tell people all the time that Black comes in different shades. That’s the beauty of people of color. There’s a multitude of shades.”

Colvin decided to add a fifth hero to the group, instead of altering Terra’s design. The look for Nina, her new character, is based on Colvin’s late mother.

“Nina is a dark-skinned Black woman with kinky, curly hair,” Colvin said.

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