By Carol Tannenhauser
A 12-year-old Upper West Side girl has found a way to fight the “sadness” she feels about, what she diplomatically calls, “current events.”
Sasha Harmon Matthews – already a published comic-book author and artist – has launched the “Everyday Superheroes Project” to raise both her spirits and money for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In less than a month, the seventh grader from MS 54 has created and sold 33 commissioned cartoon likenesses of people, from cookie bakers to microbiologists, highlighting their everyday superpowers.
As of last Thursday (before the mail arrived), Sasha had raised $1,885, with a backlog of 10 orders. It takes her between 1½ and 2½ hours to complete a drawing. She provides a digital file and is mailed a check or cash, which she deposits in a bank account set up for the project.
“What if this gets out of hand?” WSR asked.
“I’ll drop out of school,” she deadpanned.
Sasha described the thinking behind her project: “I wanted to do something that was actually important. ‘Everyday Superheroes’ is a fundraiser. 100% of the money made is donated to the ACLU. The superhero part is because I think a lot of people feel a little bit powerless and maybe they’re sad and depressed about the same ‘current events.’ The point is to make people feel empowered. Everyone has something that makes them special, even if it seems ordinary.”
The superheroes Sasha draws are all around us. “They’re you,” she said, “what you do or are interested in that makes you an interesting person.” Like her mom, Amy Harmon, a New York Times reporter.
Or, one of the first everyday superheroes she created, her father, Scott Matthews, a photographer whose work is frequently featured in WSR.
Matthews used Sasha’s drawing of him as his profile picture on Facebook, explaining her plan to raise money for the ACLU and how to commission a drawing. The price would be determined by the purchaser. (Most have given between $50 and $150.) Within hours, four friends wrote back commissioning drawings. Then, friends of theirs wrote, and friends of theirs, and, soon, Sasha was drawing people she had never met, from as far away as California, Australia, and New Jersey.
Amy L., from Montclair, received her drawing as a gift from her business and life partner. After opening the file, she wrote, “I am seeing this RIGHT NOW at this moment and I am laughing and crying and absolutely blown away by this young woman. The hula hoops (even a tiny one for LOLA!) My hair (no longer very blonde but she nailed the messy style), my pink boots, my belt, my creative shirt. What a gift!! Oh Sasha Matthews Rumble Comics you are MY hero and I will treasure this always.”
Sasha “nails” her subjects because she does her research. All are asked to send photographs of themselves and to fill out “super-questionnaires,” including three questions, as described by Sasha: “#1 What are three of your favorite colors, and if you don’t have three of them, I can make them up; #2 What is your special job, interest, hobby; and #3 How do you feel about capes? Mostly all have capes,” she said, “and are smiling, because people like to see themselves smiling.
“This project is really not just a response to Trump. It’s also for any other reason people might feel sad. Trump is probably the main shadow in people’s lives, but there’s also a lot of other things to be sad about. People can get in touch with their inner superheroes. I’m 12 and I raised almost $2,000 already, and I have to go to school and stuff. The point is, everyone has a different thing that makes them special. If you want to do something, do it. What I do is I draw. Someone else could mobilize their talent for charity.”
For information about how to commission an Everyday Superhero, go to rumblecomics.com.
Sasha Harmon Matthews is the author of Sitting Bull and Pompeii: Lost and Found. We profiled her after her Sitting Bull book was published when she was 10.
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