By C. Zawadi Morris

January 4, 2014, 2:35 pm

 

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Manny Burgos was 16 years old when a high school teacher discovered his talent, by way of a practical joke.

“My chemistry teacher was late for class every day,” said Manny. “And because I liked to cartoon by that age, I would draw cartoons of this man on the blackboard in really funny scenarios.

“He’d come in later, laughing harder than the class and would say, ‘Who did this? Who did this? Tell me. I promise you won’t get in trouble.’”

But Manny never said a word. And the antics were so funny, the class refused to point him out.

“So finally one day my teacher walked in and caught me drawing,” said Manny. “He said to me, ‘Aha! After class, meet me in the teacher’s cafeteria.’”

Manny met his teacher after class. And sure enough, found out his chemistry teacher was a part-time cartoonist who already had a number of comic strips published in The New Yorker.

His teacher saw that Manny had talent and so began to mentor him.

But at the time, Manny’s mind and interests were on other matters: You know, teenage stuff. He was a Nuyorican kid trying to grow up and find his way in the mean streets of East New York.

Eventually he did grow up, and Manny’s other interest— social justice —led him to a life of politics and community activism.

Today, Manny Burgos organizes minority housing and commercial developers, general contractors, property managers and non-profit community developers. As a consultant, he prepares clients to meet with the state housing commissioner. And he loves what he does.

 

From left to right: Woody Pascal, Deputy Commissioner Office of Rent Administration; Manny Burgos, Special Assistant to the Commissioner; Bruce Falbo, Bureau Chief of the Rent Information Bureau; Deneane Brown, Director, Upper Manhattan Borough Rent Office; Greg Fewer, Director of Policy Unit, ORA; Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns; Assemblyman Herman "Denny" Farrell; Richard White, Deputy Commissioner Tenant Protection Unit.

From left to right: Woody Pascal, Deputy Commissioner Office of Rent Administration; Manny Burgos, Special Assistant to the Commissioner; Bruce Falbo, Bureau Chief of the Rent Information Bureau; Deneane Brown, Director, Upper Manhattan Borough Rent Office; Greg Fewer, Director of Policy Unit, ORA; Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns; Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell; Richard White, Deputy Commissioner Tenant Protection Unit.

Ah, but the people and the politics and the characters and the stories, so full of humor, conflict and lessons. Eventually, the scenarios would accumulate in Manny’s mind as the perfect collection for… a comic strip!

While continuing his work as a political and fair housing consultant, he decided to give cartooning another spin. He bought a slew of books and began studying the art of developing a comic strip.

“For me, the hardest part was the narration and dialogue,” Manny said. “The illustration was easy, so I always leave that for last.”

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Manny’s strip, “Average Man,” a play on his name, debuted August 20, 2012, on Manny’s birthday, “So the main character would have the same birthday as me,” he said.

Average Man is Manny’s alter ego, an average Nuyorican who lives and works in Central Brooklyn, viewed through a light-hearted and humorous lens.

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The comic strip so far, has been very popular with English-speaking Latinos, said Manny, because it depicts scenarios that a New York-born Puerto Rican immediately would understand.

“But I don’t alienate non-Latinos. These are stories taken right from my life, growing up in East New York.”

In fact, many of the strips include people and places and scenarios that will ring familiar with most residents of Central Brooklyn.

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“It’s meant more for the intellectual reader. But it’s always comical,” said Manny.

So far, Manny has released 39 weekly strips, all of which can be found on his website, Averageman.net and his Facebook page.

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About The Author

C. Zawadi Morris is an award-winning journalist and a Chicago native who moved to Brooklyn in 1997. Ms. Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (and a minor in Spanish) from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She has worked as the communications director for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-12), a senior account executive for Shandwick Public Affairs and Cohn & Wolf Public Relations, and Bed-Stuy Patch. In December 2013, under The Original Media Group, Ms. Morris launched The Brooklyn Reader, an online news source covering the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn.

C. Zawadi Morris is an award-winning journalist and a Chicago native who moved to Brooklyn in 1997. Ms. Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (and a minor in Spanish) from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She has worked as the communications director for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-12), a senior account executive for Shandwick Public Affairs and Cohn & Wolf Public Relations, and Bed-Stuy Patch. In December 2013, under The Original Media Group, Ms. Morris launched The Brooklyn Reader, an online news source covering the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn.

One Response

  1. Tywan

    Great article about a great artist who is very passionate about his craft!!!!!

    Reply

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