HONOLULU (KHON2) — A local comic book company is excited to bring to life the story of young Kamehameha and his extraordinary journey to become the King who would one day unite the Hawaiian Islands. Mana Legends: Kamehameha #1 is their first comic based on true events — and it’s also their first to be available in Hawaiian O’lelo.
“We sunk a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears into this comic,” said Christopher Caravalho, the founder of Mana Comics.
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Readers will be transported back in time to experience Kamehameha’s death-defying birth and be
introduced to the people who taught him vital lessons on his journey to become the future King, including King Alapa’inui, Nae’ole, Keku’iapoiwa, Kekūhaupiʻo and kahuna.
Developing the comic has also been a journey for Caravalho who started the process in 2020.
“My artist DJ and I were both excited because although we’ve done other comic projects, this would be our first based on real events, and we knew that our version of such an iconic figure would be scrutinized. Truthfully, we had our reservations,” he said.
But those worries soon went away when the kumu from Kamehameha Schools Internship Program contacted them to take on student interns. Caravalho took it as a sign that they were on the right path and to move forward with the project.
“Mokihana Paik, our first intern, shared that she loved art and writing and was eager to learn what she could from Mana Comics,” said Caravalho. “I was able to share lessons to strengthen her natural talents, and she also helped create several of our comic ads.”
When Caravalho saw how hardworking she was, he wanted to give her an opportunity to draw a variant cover for the comic book.
“So for her final lesson, I tasked her with drawing King Kamehameha,” said Caravalho. “Her finished art was beautiful, and I just sort of blurted out to her, ‘Oh, by the way, I want this to be one of the covers of Mana Legends comic.’ Her reaction to that news was just total happiness.”
The comic book will be available in both English and Hawaiian O’lelo, which was also made possible through the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Internship Program. After Caravalho pitched this idea to the program, their kumu found the next intern to bring on board, Chole Sylva.
“Chole was a blessing and took on this difficult task and completed 46 pages of dialogue by selecting Native Hawaiian words to capture the imagery, action, drama and humor of the script,” said Caravalho.
Another intern Caravalho wanted to shine a light on is Payton Oliveira, the captain of the Kamehameha girls volleyball team who is fresh off her winning season and busy with completing her senior year. He said Payton helped out in a huge way with marketing.
“She spread the word about the Kamehameha project via the coconut wireless, ads she helped create, a Mana Comics display in the Midkiff Library showcasing Mana Comics and a 6-foot cutout of the King,” Caravalho explained.
He added that Payton also put together and hosted a video feature segment for the Puka Mai Ka Lā Campus Morning News Show.
“I was simply astounded by these interns’ work ethic and professionalism. I am also so grateful to the Kamehameha Schools, the staff and kumu who supported them along the way to ensure their success,” said Caravalho. “The school also invited us on campus to participate in small ceremony, and we were able to thank and recognize these young mana wahine for the all their collective contributions to Mana Comics.”
When Mana Comics launched their Kickstarter event on March 1, they were fully funded in less than a day. It’s all thanks to their first backers from the community and for being recognized by Kickstarter.
“Our project received a ‘Projects We Love’ badge,” Caravalho explained. “The badge indicates that out of the 20,000 ongoing comic campaigns, our project was selected and considered as one of the best and brightest on Kickstarter.”
Although they achieved their fundraising goal, Caravalho would love to see it go even higher. Supporters have a chance to receive exclusive merchandise, variant covers from local artists like Brook Parker and Stephen Kakaio, among other perks. The Kickstarter event ends on March 30.
Caravalho shared that what was truly rewarding about the partnership with the Kamehameha Schools Internship Program was hearing what the interns had to say about it.
On a recent podcast, Mokihana was asked what it was like to work with Mana Comics. Caravalho said her answer made him teary-eyed.
“With a genuine smile, she replied, ‘Working with Mana Comics has been one of the most greatest experiences that I had pleasure to be a part of, and working under Chris was definitely life-changing and it gave me a new perspective on my future — what I want to do as a career as an artist — and inspired me to want to make illustrations and animation for children in the future,'” Caravalho recounted.
“I had no idea she felt that way,” he said. “The fact that I was blessed with such extraordinary interns and was able to in my small way to help Mokihana decide the path take on her own life journey — that’s priceless.”
Mana Comics has self-published 15 superhero books to date. Click here to help fund Mana Legends: Kamehameha #1.
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“I’m thrilled. I believe in our project. I believe in the power of comics. I believe that in a world where we are competing with a tsunami of digital information, sharing the story of Kamehameha in a comic book will excite keiki of all ages,” Caravalho said. “Our intentions are pure aloha. If we can help ignite a passion in someone to want to learn more about Hawaiian history and culture… pau. We succeeded.”