This June, the Sentinel is putting the spotlight on Black men, highlighting their life and how they make a difference in the world.
TJ Sterling is an artist, writer and the president and lead artist of RAE Comics, which stands for Red, Arcis, the Latin word for stronghold, fortress or house and Entertainment. RAE Comics features diverse and underrepresented characters that go outside traditional American comics mixed with Eastern philosophies, creating something unique.
Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, TJ frequented local comic shops growing up and is heavily influenced by the illustration style of the 90s. In 2001, he moved from Michigan to New York to attend art college, where he honed his artistic ability. During college, he worked for Marvel Entertainment’s Bullpen and after college, would continue working at Marvel. TJ’s experience also includes working at Dark Horse and Aspen Comics.
The first comic book produced by TJ and his team was “Okemus.” The comic debuted at San Diego Comic Con 2015 and sold out its first print run of 400 copies. Rae Comics has garnered an amazing fanbase across the globe and has raised over $50K via Kickstarter for various titles.
During his off time, TJ has freelanced for various clients such as Universal Music and DC Comics on Batman Giant #5. He is also a teacher at the Joe Kubert School of Comic and Cartoon art. The Sentinel had a chance to catch up with TJ and talk to him about RAE Comics, his views and keys to success.
LAS: What do you like most about your job? Share something about your job that the public may find interesting?
TJ: I love the ability to create uplifting and entertaining narratives through comics and graphic novels. Being the ultimate creator within your own universe of characters is really special. It allows you to make stories that resonate with you on every level.
LAS: June is being highlighted as Black Men’s Appreciation Month here at the Sentinel. As a Black man, what are some of your concerns for Black men today in general?
TJ: My concern for fellow Black men is surviving and thriving within any industry. I think it’s easy for certain types of industries and companies to marginalize our voices and downplay the achievements and strides we make. So, it’s critical to have a mentor and a good support system when pushing through new frontiers and striving for more.
LAS: What are your personal keys to success? What are three tips you would share with a young, Black man?
TJ: Consistency and integrity. Success is really something that is attainable when you show up with a positive clear vision for yourself and your business. Also, being a good listener.
To find out more about RAE Comics, please visit www.raecomics.com