Artist's Dream of Creating Hero for Little Girls Wins Internet Backing

By Nicholas Rizzi on January 27, 2014 8:14am 

 Staten Island artist Robert Geronimo started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish his children's book, "Little Maia and the Coral City."
Staten Island artist Robert Geronimo started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to publish his children's book, "Little Maia and the Coral City."
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Robert Geronimo

STATEN ISLAND — After failing to find a publisher for his children's book, a Staten Island artist took to the Internet to raise funds to do it himself — and the response has been overwhelming.

Robert Geronimo's Kickstarter project for his book "Little Maia and the Coral City"  has already topped his $6,000 goal by more than $1,000 with 16 days left to go. It was featured as a "Project of the Day" by the website and is a top pick in the publishing category.

"I knew the time was right for Maia, I was just hoping people would acknowledge it," Geronimo said. "I was so overwhelmed, I saw it rise so fast."

Geronimo's wordless book tells the story of Maia, a young girl who finds herself in an undersea town filled with fish-people who try hard to help her get back home.

While writing his thesis on the superhero "Wonder Woman" at Brooklyn College, Geronimo noticed there weren't many strong, female characters for young girls. Geronimo created Maia to fill the void and tried to get it published.

"They said 'This is great. We love the art. Is there any chance you can change the heroine into a boy?'" Geronimo said. "I couldn't do it. It's about empowering young girls. It defeated the entire purpose of the whole project."

So he took to the Internet to publish the book himself. He's also been in talks with several public schools in the borough interested in the book.

Geronimo drew on classic fables, books like "Where the Wild Things Are?" and horror stories to create "Coral City" and its fish-people inhabitants.

"I have always been a fan of traditional fables where the animals speak, and I'm also a big fan of horror stories, so I wanted to make these creatures a little weird so you can see beauty in the ugly," Geronimo said. "These things are tall and lanky, they're kind of eerie."

He said all the extra funds he gets will be used to better market the book, including funding booths at local comic conventions.

And while he's focusing on getting this book printed and shipped, he said he plans for the character of Maia to have many more adventures.

"I have all intentions to make this a series," he said. "There are going to be tons of imaginative worlds. What is she going to dream up next?"

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