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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Father and Son Suit Up to Fight Crime – and Sell a Few Comic Books

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Christy Fleming
Christy Fleming
The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

Demitrius Bullock “Daddy Long Legs” and 10-year-old Bryce Bullock, the “Inchworm,” play the good guys in a comic book series they launched this year.

A dynamic father-son duo from Middletown have just published their second full-length comic book in just one year, delivering another fun-filled and riveting crime-fighting narrative for kids of all ages.

Demitrius “Daddy Long Legs” Bullock and 10-year-old son Bryce the “Inchworm” have suited up again to take on the forces of evil in their latest story, Daddy Long Legs and the Inchworm: Here Comes Hot Garbage.  The book follows their successful maiden voyage into the comic book market with Daddy Long Legs and the Inchworm, which debuted earlier this year.

The new adventure introduces “Hot Garbage” (with rats for feet!) as a monster villain who goes to great lengths to make sure no one can ever get clean in his evil empire.

WHAM! The team delivers a double team super punch to the coughing and injured Hot Garbage.

KAPOW! Dazed, the evil trash can retreats in defeat but vows to return.

More than partners in fighting crime, Demitrius and Bryce are collaborators on a colorful comic book enterprise. Bryce is the author and character designer, and dad Demitrius, a professional artist, pens the illustrations.

Their second issue will be unveiled for the first time this weekend at the annual Comic Con festival in Dover. Ten-thousand costumed characters are expected at the event, and the Bullocks will be prepared with boxes filled with their newest tale, ready to sell for $15. 

A true artistic partnership. Bryce’s story and drawings on right, father’s illustrations in the book.

Daddy Long Legs part 2 continues the crime-fighting adventures introduced in the Bullock’s first book. But this time Daddy Long Legs and the Inchworm encounter more ruthless and dangerous characters, including the Dung Beetle, a roach, and Hot Garbage. The young author says he was trying to inspire “disgustingness – something really gross and nasty” when he came up with the idea for the leading villain.

“Hot Garbage is made of sewage. I drew a trash can on his head with two black eyeballs and dumpster pants and dead rats as feet. His legs, chest and arms are darkish green sewage, and his chest has a manhole cover.”

The co-authors have already sold over 3,000 copies of their first story at book shows, arts festivals and public speaking events. Their titles are also available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

“EE” is like a hidden Find Waldo type of character who’s in each of the Daddy Long Legs comic books – just once

“It feels really good to have two comic books published,” said Bryce. “It’s cool to have all of my ideas out in the public.” The Old State Elementary School 5th grader and his dad even have their very own superhero costumes, designed by Bryce and made by a family friend, which they don at public events – or when they just feel like acting out make-believe.

Bryce fell in love with comic books, superheroes and Marvel characters as a toddler. That’s when he began to doodle – often in costume – creating characters of his own.

“He started us on this journey of books,” said Demitrius. “He would always watch me while I was drawing. But at the age of five, he came to us and said, ‘Daddy, I want to make a book.’ He had an idea for a picture book about a child who is hungry and looking for things to eat throughout the house and gets in trouble for using his parents’ credit card to order pizza. He called the book The Hungry Kid.”

Tony Bibbles and the Case of the Midnight Wildabeast – another picture book – brought all three of the Bullocks together. Mom Michelle did the writing, Demitrius did the illustrating, and Bryce, then 8, did the character and story development. “Everything around Tony Bibbles comes to life – a milk carton, a ketchup bottle, and a tube sock. The tube sock is Tony Bibbles’ partner and helps him solve mystery crimes,” said Bryce.

Demitrius, Michelle and Bryce Bullock will bring their newly published “Daddy Long Legs and the Inchworm – Here Comes Hot Garbage” to Comic Con in Dover this weekend.

Using the self-publishing tool CreateSpace, the Bullocks printed Bryce’s first book in 2013. Since then the ideas have just kept coming.

“I like coming up with crazy characters, and I have fun imagining all the powers I can give them,” said Bryce.

Hot Garbage and the roach are two villains in the Bullock’s newest comic book.

Discussing his newest comic tome, the elementary schooler described characteristics of his leading roles. “Hot Garbage can shoot sewage and put you in a trap of sewage, which hardens. Daddy Long Legs is able to stretch his legs to an unrecorded length, and his bones are made of rubber. The Inchworm can shrink to the size of an inchworm and morph himself into a stick that is unbreakable and has retractable spikes. Daddy Long Legs then uses the stick to hit the bad guys on the head.”

Even the little Inchworm can even lift a car a few feet off the ground.

With each publishing venture, Bryce remains the heart and soul of the enterprise. Learning from dad how to draw in dramatic fashion and illustrate fight scenes, it was Bryce’s idea to start a comic book series. He wrote and drew the scenes for his second comic book in a matter of days.

“It’s pretty incredible to us to see how quickly Bryce has learned how to illustrate and tell stories,” said Michelle. “All of his villains have a ridiculous backstory that causes them to be evil. It’s really fun to see him come up with these ideas,” she said.

Bryce has a never-ending supply of paper and pencils in the kitchen area. “I’m always drawing something.”

Bryce, who draws at a work desk next to his father’s in the basement of their Middletown home, has established a playful name for his comic book business, “Pankake Images.” He will start 5th grade next month.

Demitrius gave up a career as a behavioral counselor and art therapist (for parents who had been removed from their children due to drugs or imprisonment) to pursue his dream of being a full-time illustrator in 2013. The self-taught artist specializes in cartooning and science fiction concepts, but his work includes commissioned wall art for 9/11, musicians and TV programs. His work and Pankake Images can be found here: MotionIllustrationz.com.

Michelle is an adjunct instructor at Delaware Technical Community College and an adoption recruiter at Children’s Choice. She also helps the publishing duo with editing, formatting and merchandising. “She’s a high contributing member to our team,” says Bryce.

Bryce has already come up with dozens of new illustrated characters and has written and illustrated the third issue of Daddy Long Legs and the Inchworm, which will publish sometime next year. He has plans for seven more in the series.

The ambitious youngster says he still enjoys playing video games and running around in costumes with his friends. But he’s already considered what he might do when he grows up. “I hope to be a movie maker, a video game designer, or an astrophysicist. Oh, and author, too!”

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