HONOLULU (KHON2) — While the pandemic continues to keep events closed, one local comic book artist is using this time to open up new stories that double down on the value of Hawaii culture.
Based in Ewa Beach, Christopher Caravalho has self-published 15 comics so far with the help of family, friends and the community contributing to his Kickstarter campaigns. His company Mana Comics features superheroes from Hawaii that celebrates different faces and local kine humor.
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The pandemic, he says, initially made him feel uncertainty, fear and hesitation.
“The pandemic really stole a lot of events and social opportunities with cancellations of conventions, festivals, and school visitations,” said Caravalho.
Although last year’s Made in Hawaii Festival returned as an in-person event, Caravalho didn’t participate due to concerns of attendance and cancellations.
For Caravalho, face-to-face interaction is priceless because it allows customers to see and hear his passion for his creations and comics.
“They can’t help but feel that energy,” he said. “It’s genuine and they feed off of it.”
He realizes that social interactions with the public has been essential to getting the word out about his business and to help grow it. COVID-19, he says, severed that connection.
“Mandates brought changes, and I watched businesses I grew up with disappear,” he continued, “and here I am… thinking what chance do I have to keep my dream and business alive in this new environment.”
Caravalho, who served as a Honolulu police officer for 23 years, finally pursued his childhood dream in 2014 when he founded Mana Comics. He has been a fan of comics since he could read, even creating superheroes and writing stories based on his classmates in elementary school.
While the pandemic still leaves much uncertainty for comic book artists, Caravalho says the memories of him as a kid running into 7-Eleven straight to the comic book spin racks, getting lost and finding joy in the stories, are what helped him to not give up.
“It really is a happy place,” he said, “and when life gets hard there’s a great deal of importance in having something you love.”
The pandemic has given Caravalho a lot of time to reflect on the types of stories he wants to continue sharing, to double down on the value of ones that share local culture.
Last year, Caravalho was able to build upon the Mana Comic Universe and released several new books, including the Anuenue Warriors — a cosmic ʻohana sent from the heavens to save the world from darkness — and Sistah Shark 3, which follows the ongoing adventures of a local girl superhero from Waimanalo.
They join a mixplate of heroes: Royal Hawaiian Guard, Geckoman, Portuguese Man o War, Super Size Sole, Seoul Hot, Mighty Moke and the Phantom Surfer. Together, they battle any threat to Hawaii and its people.
“I was raised in the island culture and with the island humor watching legends like Andy Bumatai, Frank Delima and Uncle Rap with their TV specials. Totally unfiltered, but total local,” he said. “When I’m writing my stories, especially when my characters are interacting with each other, I try not to water it down because I want the readers of my book to have that true island authentic flavor that reminds you of home.”
During the pandemic, Caravalho made the decision to deviate from the normal superhero genre and reconnect with his native roots by writing “Mana Legends: Kamehameha #1,” which explores the journey of young Kamehameha on his journey to become the King who would one day unite the islands.
In March, Caravalho will be teaming up with artist DJ Keawekane to kickstart this project. Those who wish to help fund Caravalho’s 16th comic, or to purchase any one of his others, can click here. Mana Comics can also be found at Other Realms, Westside Comics, Bishop Museum, No’eau Designers, and Homegrown.
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To catch Caravalho in person, look out for this event! On Feb. 19, Mana Comics will be partnering with Sea Life Park for their second annual Keiki Hero Con.