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The Creative Forces Behind ‘Helvetika Bold’


(For the full story about the Opportunity Agenda’s social justice communications toolkit, click here.)

Helvetika Bold—the new comic book superhero from the Opportunity Agenda who has the power to change the dominant narrative—first appeared in a dream. Standing powerfully with her hands on her hips, she looked like Pam Grier’s Foxy Brown with a bit of Xena Warrior Princess thrown in. Above her head floated the word “Helvetica,” and she said, “I have the power of words.”

Betsy Richards

Betsy Richards

The dreamer was Betsy Richards, the group’s senior creative director, who organizes their annual Creative Change retreat and other projects using culture to build the national will to expand opportunity in America.

The dream didn’t come out of nowhere; an experienced director, writer and arts funder/producer, Richards had been thinking intensively about how to bring the power of culture to bear on The Opportunity Agenda’s framing and messaging work. She had learned that the organization’s executive director, Alan Jenkins, was a comic book fan and not long before, had connected with New York Times-bestselling author, artist and graphic novelist Gan Golan at their Creative Change Retreat. Jenkins, Richards and Golan batted around ideas about what kind of character might represent the organization’s work, or more importantly, the work of advocates dedicated to expanding opportunity.

gan_ncf

Gan Golan

Now they had their answer. The dream haprovided the basis for what would become Helvetika Bold, conceived and developed by Richards and written and illustrated by Golan. This new apparition would be a perfect expression of the power each of us has to change the world around us through language and story. She’s also a demonstration of how art can be combined with more traditional communications for powerful effect.

Richards says that The Opportunity Agenda looks forward to developing more issues of the comic and working with Golan on a costume for a live action Helvetika. Stay tuned. Same Helvetika Bold time. Same Helvetika Bold channel. Kapow!

–Paul VanDeCarr

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