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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Award-winning Cartoonist to Unveil Specially Created Comic Strip at NVCC

Jerry CraftWaterbury, Conn. - Jerry Craft, creator of “Mama’s Boyz,” an award-winning comic strip that has been distributed by King Features Syndicate since 1995, will unveil a strip he created especially for the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) at Naugatuck Valley Community College on Wednesday, February 24, at 12:00 pm in Ekstrom Hall, Room E500.

Craft is currently one of only a handful of syndicated African-American cartoonists in the country.  His first book, “Mama's Boyz: As American as Sweet Potato Pie!” was named in “Great Books for African American Children.” Since then,the strip has been featured in “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul,”   “Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul,” and “The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing.” In 2007, he released his second collection of strips entitled “Mama’s Boyz: Home Schoolin’Because Learning Shouldn’t Stop at 3 O’Clock,” which was endorsed by both Teachers Against Prejudice and Comics in the Classroom.  His third book, “Mama’s Boyz: The Big Picture,” will be released in February 2010.

“Professor Bill Foster approached me about his personal friend, Jerry Craft, donating a piece of art to the Academic Center for Excellence,” said Kathy Taylor, director of ACE, which was founded in 2009 by NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. “I wanted a comic strip that stressed the importance of pursuing academic excellence and, specifically, relevant to the Writing Center.  The donated strip, featuring a diverse group of students, illustrates the importance of proofreading.  It will be hung in the ACE Writing Center.”

In October of 2006, Craft left his job in corporate America as the editorial director of the Sports Illustrated for Kids Web site where he was responsible for producing much of the content for the popular kids site. This included interviewing athletes such as Derek Jeter, producing online games, hosting a streaming sports radio show and creating popular Flash animated cartoons such as “The Randy Moss Driving School.”

Working for his own company, Mama’s Boyz, Inc., Craft gets to draw on his passion without leaving the comfort of his home.  Since branching out on his own, he has done illustrations for Essence Magazine, several book covers and completed two children’s books entitled “Hillary’s Big Business Adventure,” which follows the plan of an industrious 10-year old girl and her friends as she tries to earn enough money to buy a new bike; and “Looking to the Clouds for Daddy,” which is the true story of three young girls who are coping with the loss of their father.

In addition to making his readers laugh, Craft has used “Mama’s Boyz” to help spread the word for several organizations, helping to fight childhood obesity with the American Council for
Fitness and Nutrition, raising awareness of organ and tissue donation for Donate Life America, and helping to increase support for the American Diabetes Association, which earned him two Outstanding Supporter Awards. He has also won two African American Literary Awards Show Open Book Awards for “best comic strip” (2009 and 2004) and received nominations from the National Cartoonists Society as well as the Glyph Awards. In June of 2007, he received a “Conversation Starter” award from the DC Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy, an honor granted to advocates who have helped change the conversation about teen pregnancy from one that places blame and shame on teenagers to conversations about what it takes to motivate teens to want to avoid pregnancy in the first place.

Craft is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts where he received his BFA degree in advertising. After working in the ad world for a dozen years as a copywriter, he got his first job as a cartoonist working with Barbara Slate on a variety of comic books and graphic novels for Marvel and Harvey comics followed by eight years at King Features Syndicate, where he wrote sales brochures for some of the world’s most popular comic strips.
 
In March of 2008, he appeared on a panel of experts and comedy practitioners on “The Serious Stuff about Humor – What is It? Why is It?” at the Michigan Theater. The panel included noted political cartoonists, New Yorker cartoonists and writers from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as well as professors and psychologists.

When he is not at his drawing table, or spending time with his family, Craft travels to schools, camps and libraries giving his popular cartooning workshops.

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