Israel Idonije both plays for the Chicago Bears as a defensive lineman and created the comic book The Protectors. He was generous enough to take some time out of his day to chat with us.
Also look for the contest we’re running to give away an autographed copy of The Protectors.
Nerdgasms: Do you want to tell us a little bit about the Protectors and your comic company Athlita Comics?
Israel Idonije: The Protectors is a story I created back in 2007 during the 3 week span of training camp. I wanted to create something. And I wanted to tell the origin story of the athlete: their strength on the field, the gift they have to excel at their sport. Really a by-product of the gift they were given to protect the human race from the dissenters, an evil force that is basically looking to enslave humanity. So that’s the story of the protectors. It’s a great story. We’re having a blast writing it. We have issues 0 and 1 out now. We have 4 more issues to complete the first story arc. And Athlita Comics is our small little comic company. We’re just looking to tell great stories and send a positive message and really promote reading and community with people that enjoy comics.
NG: Have you been a comic fan since you were a kid?
II: Actually I got my first comic when I was 13. I wasn’t a big reader, but my parents made us read like an hour every day. Someone actually donated to, gave me, some comics. I got my first series of comics was Green Hornet comics and that was it. From then on my hour I had to read every night during the week was spent reading the Green Hornet comics and it kind of just grew from there.
NG: Do you do anything special with the comic line to promote reading?
II: I’m fortunate to have Chicago appoint me to the public library board. We have a Just Read program that partners with the Chicago Public Library and libraries in general where we donate an allotment of comics every year to kids in the program. When we get enough for a trade, we’ll have them in the Chicago Public Libraries for kids to read. And comics have a place in libraries. They’re great for reading and reading comprehension. Not only are you reading something, but you’re seeing the image. You see the illustration and it helps conceptualize what you’re reading. So it’s a great piece for educational reading. And on the Just Read side we’re really pushing for that.
NG: As a professional athlete, do you feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the community?
II: It’s not even about being a professional athlete. I think regardless of your platform and I think everyone has a platform. Everyone has a gift. Regardless of the color of your skin and where you come from, you have a gift. We all have gifts. It’s about everyone using their gifts and their passion to influence their sphere, their circle, to be a positive force in the lives around you. I think that’s what the story of the Protectors is about. These athletes, with these gifts, make a conscious effort to join the fight. That’s our tag line. Joining the fight means to do what’s right and make the right decisions to fight for good.
NG: What’s your ultimate goal with the comic company and with the Protectors book?
II: To tell a great story that people connect with. That’s the fundamental base of everything. We want to tell a great story. Tell a story people love and connect with for a long time and let everything happen naturally. We’ll let it drive itself. For me, I’ve already had the big win. I created this story in 2007. No One had a face. None of the characters had lines or anything. Now to be holding two completed issues in my hand and to be able to smell the fresh ink as I flip through the pages, that’s the win. It’s been such a big accomplishment to take a concept to actual reality. It’s been a dream come true. Now it’s just sharing it with the world and sharing the story behind it and connecting with people and having fun.
NG: Is there anything else you want to add so I can let you get back to your fans?
II: Thanks to Nerdgasms, thanks for helping us spread the word of our story.
Check out Athlita Comics: athlitacomics.com
Also click here for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Protectors: