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Alum Creates Superhero for DC Comics

A cartoon girl with paint spattered on her.
The graphic. novel cover. for Primer, created by Tom Krajewski ’99.

By David Ertischek ’01

Like a superhero who kicks down a door, Tom Krajewski’s ’99 graphic novel with the legendary DC Comics, appeared in a flash.

Krajewski and his co-creator, Jennifer Muro, were discussing possible ideas for creating an impactful female superhero in early 2018. They came up with Primer, about a 12-year-old girl who dons special paints that give her an array of superpowers. Muro talked with an editor at DC, and the graphic novel was released in June with incredible art by Gretel Lusky. It’s geared for children 8 to 12 years old.

“We had created a hero in a month. Normally it’s year and years,” said Krajewski. “It was mind-blowing because I grew up loving DC, with Batman and Superman.”

Primer is a coming of age story about Ashley Rayburn, whose foster mother is a geneticist who steals a top-secret multicolored paint set from the government because she doesn’t want the paints used for nefarious purposes. Ashley snoops around and the paints become affixed to her body, giving her a host of super powers, including super strength, the ability to fly, and a lot more.

For Krajewski, Emerson College was, in many ways, his coming of age story. He said Emerson classes taught him how to write a story.

“When I took screenwriting classes – these were massive for me. Stuff I hadn’t thought about before. That’s why you go to college,” said Krajewski. “The LA program was instrumental in my career.

Head shot of Tom Krajewski
Tom Krajewski ’99

“Emerson gave me a lot of friends who had accepted their geekdom in the ‘90s. We were misfits and felt accepted there. Emerson gave me a lot of confidence, knowledge, and friends,” said Krajewski, who enjoyed bringing his friends’ ideas to life.

Ideas like Primer and how to develop her character.

“When we came up with the character putting body paints on…It’s like war paint. We said ‘Let’s call her war paint’. ‘No, we can’t call her war paint because that’s an inappropriate term,” said Krajewiski.

Utilizing a thesaurus engine, Muro and Krajewski looked for possible names. “Primer” sounded cool, and it fit the character.

A cartoon of a girl holding up a plane in the air.
Primer saves the day!

“Her dad is a criminal and she helped him pull off a crime, and she feels very guilty about it,” said Krajewski. That guilt inspires her to be a superhero once she gains control of the paints. “There’s a specific evil soldier trying to get it, and she’s trying to protect herself and her family, stop the bad guy while being a young teenager discovering who she is, and [learning] if she’s like her criminal father, and if that’s her destiny.”

As of now, Primer is a standalone character in the DC Comics universe. But Krajewski hopes she joins stories with the Teen Titans, Harley Quinn (who was created by Emerson alum Paul Dini ’79), and Batwoman.

Krajewski’s destiny is still being written. He is continuing to write for many animated children’s television shows. In the past he wrote for Netflix’s Buddy Thunderstruck, two Scooby-Doo shows, New Looney Tunes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. And he’d love to see Primer team up with some of the more famous DC Comic legends and hit the live screen.

“I would love to see her there and be there when she makes her debut,” said Krajewski.

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