NEW BEDFORD – As Tem Blessed grew up, he yearned for superheroes and comic book protagonists who looked like him. So he created his own.
Blessed, whose full name is Temistocles Ferreria, is a hip-hop artist, environmental activist and author. He was born in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, to Cape Verdean parents and moved to New Bedford when he was only three years old.
He took advantage of every educational opportunity that was offered to him, graduating from New Bedford High School as senior class president and pursuing his studies in law, sociology, and African American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. . In school, he explored his love for hip-hop music by joining a group called Busted Fro.
After graduating from college, he got involved in youth programs. He worked with a science enrichment program where he was a tutor and mentor for young people. He returned to New Bedford to give young people opportunities and guidance to reach their full potential. He has worked with UMass Dartmouth’s Upward Bound program, helping children get their general education development (GED) and financial support for college through an Americorps program as a services coordinator communities, while continuing the legend of New Bedford as a “secret town”, a place where local hidden talents remain unknown in the artistic underground, especially through hip-hop culture.
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âI like to think I had this superhero life,â Blessed said. âBy day I was Clark Kent, a nonprofit worker; at night i was a hip-hop worker with Busted Fro.
Settling into her own family of three boys and one girl, Blessed continued her love of storytelling by putting her children to bed at night.
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âI told stories through my music, but I feel like I have something here,â Blessed said. “I just started writing a story knowing that I love the comic book and graphic novel genre.”
And that’s how Planeta Blu – Rise of Agoo was born.
Blessed admitted that he was never a big reader growing up, but the comics were one of the ways he trained his brain to engage in activity, something he passed on to the young people of New Bedford. He said that when he found comics in sixth grade, it “really opened up a” different dimension. ”
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âI love to read, just didn’t get the exposure in the right way,â Blessed said.
While his initial passion was for legal studies, Blessed knew that the legal system “was not going to be the way” for the future, but rather that “art, music and culture were going to help shape the world. “.
âCapturing people’s imaginations and guiding people through storytelling to a positive future has more impact than systems of government and law,â said Blessed.
Tell your story through a graphic novel
Planeta Blu tells the story of the young people of downtown New Bedford: Lares, his brother Angel, TomÃ© and Tyler as they fight to save mankind and animal species from the doomsday plans of Zander, the tycoon of the Oil billionaire turned conqueror of the evil world, according to the book’s summary.
âIt’s Hunger Games meets the courageous talking animals from The Jungle Book, or Harry Potter meets Narnia,â Blessed said.
Blessed wanted to take her own experience working with young people in southern New Bedford and make it a story to showcase their personalities. He said that like Moby-Dick, his characters embark on a journey, this time from New Bedford, under deep water to South Africa and back to Colorado fighting to save humanity and the humanity of a toxic global genocide. It took Blessed five years to complete the story and connect with Mike Lariccia, a local artist, to provide the artwork.
âIt’s a very timely story at the moment,â Blessed said.
The story represents the diverse youth, courage, compassion, sacrifice and love. Young adult fiction was written for ages 11 and up; college students.
In praise of the graphic novel
Blessed wrote Planeta Blu for the sole purpose of having someone the young people of New Bedford could admire. He remembers growing up and seeing that most of the protagonists in the stories didn’t look or sound like him and he looked for other media. He said his sons grew up idolizing Marvel’s Black Panther, but he didn’t have that luxury.
Parents reached out to Blessed, he said, praising him not only for writing a wonderful book, but also for giving their children the opportunity to relate to the characters in a book, both by appearance and culture.
âMy daughter Nyah has been devouring this book ever since I gave it to her,â Tina wrote in a review on Slack. “She said she liked seeing people who looked like her in the comics and animation.”
âWe can overcome these challenges, we can overcome these challenges,â Blessed said. “I want to continue this story for our children.”
Standard-Times editor-in-chief Kerri Tallman can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @kerri_tallman for links to recent articles.
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