In October, UNICEF and Comics Uniting Nations launched the first global School Superhero Comic Contest, calling on the world’s young people to design a superhero with powers to defeat the ultimate supervillain — The Silence. Newly unmasked and menacing, this supervillain uses its powers to prevent students from speaking out about violence in schools. Throughout October, young people sent in their heartfelt submissions, shedding light on the various forms of violence students face daily, while also reflecting on the courage to tackle the issue and take action. Students gave their superheroes meaningful backstories and a varied and impressive list of superpowers, including omniscient empathy and telepathy, the power to spread smiles and good humor and to speak up for those who can’t.
A judging panel will meet to select the top 10 superheroes that will participate in a global vote ultimately determining the winning superhero. The five panelists include last year’s comic contest winner, an influential illustrator, UNICEF’s End Violence campaign lead, and social policy advocates . Let’s meet them:
Gabriel Picolo, a Brazillian comic artist and illustrator, is one of the real superheroes of this year’s comic contest. He’s worked hard to amplify the message that young people need to speak up against violence by creating his very own poignant superhero, drawing on his own experience of being bullied at school. Gabriel is most widely known for his series “Icarus and the Sun” and his casual Teen Titans fan art series, that he shares in his social media accounts. He’s worked for clients such as Blizzard, Harper Collins, BOOM! studios, shockdom and Deviantart, and is currently working on a graphic novel for DC comics.
Meesha Brown is the executive vice president of PCI Media, a strategic communication NGO, that produces communication campaigns to inform and influence knowledge, attitudes, social norms and behaviors on health, the environment, and social justice. She has over 20 years of experience in education and communication, and before coming to PCI, served as the director of literacy for NY City Public schools.
Rudina Vojvoda is UNICEF’s co-lead on the End Violence campaign. She’s been creating content and writing professionally since she was a teen, and began her career as a journalist. She directed Radio Radio, Albania’s first sitcom and has produced several documentaries for Nat Geo Explorer.
Shannon O’Shea is a social policy advocate and program executive working as the Team Leader for the Political and Public Partner Advocacy with UNICEF’s Public Partnerships Division in New York. The Team works to advance the lives of children around the world, including Member States and focused specifically on applying the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sona Sridhar is the winner of UNICEF’s Climate Comic Contest, where she launched her first comic book on climate change, Tre: The Adventures of Brother Earth, at the United Nations. Brought up in Chennai and Tamil Nadu, India, she was inspired to use her artistic talents to educate others on the impacts of climate change after her community was flooded in 2015. She currently is studying illustration and animation in Singapore and aspires to be a famous artist and illustrator making a positive difference.
After selecting a winner from our finalists, these panelists will help in making the global announcement. UNICEF is excited to unveil the winner and read the new comic book to come.
Alix Cabral is Communications Officer (Digital Partnerships) at UNICEF Global.