by Len Lear
Dawud Anyabwile (formerly David Sims), 53, and Guy A. Sims, 57, who grew up in Mt. Airy and went to Central High School and Germantown High School, respectively, creators of the highly acclaimed Brotherman Comics, were the recipients of a remarkable honor last month.
They were informed that artwork and memorabilia from their Brotherman Comics series are being placed in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. The historical and unique materials are to be included in its Archive collection for use in research and exhibitions.
The award-winning “Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline” comic book series was created and published by Dawud, Guy and their brother Jason Sims in 1990 under the banner of the now defunct Big City Comics, Inc. In 2007, Dawud formed Big City Entertainment, a multi-media and publishing company with Guy Sims as head writer.
“Brotherman” is the continuing story of a man drawn deeper into the darkness to bring light to those who have lost all hope. Beyond the art and storylines, the Brotherman artwork and stories have fans and followers among people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities; Brotherman has been a major catalyst for the modern day Black comic book movement.
Dawud, an Emmy Award-winning artist, illustrator and entrepreneur who has shared his artistic talents with major companies such as Cartoon Network, Turner Studios, NBA TV and Harper Collins Publishing, told us last week, “It is a great honor to have our creative work selected to be among other great African American achievements dating back centuries.
“It’s a very exciting time for Big City Entertainment and for me personally. I find it to be the manifestation of a vision that I have had since I was a young man. I set out to use my art first and foremost as a tool to inspire and uplift Black people in America. The inclusion of Brotherman Comics is a testimony that we should all continue to follow our dreams and never give up.”
“To say I am honored is an understatement,” added Guy. “This kind of recognition is one that I don’t think many, if any, people dream of or even desire. When we first started the Brotherman series back in late 1989, my only goal was to create stories and characters with the hopes somebody would like them.”
The Sims brothers grew up on West Mt. Airy Avenue at Emlen Street. “Mt. Airy was a great place to be a kid,” Guy said in an earlier interview. “It was a very diverse and creative, inspirational community. It had a lot of elements of suburbia but still had a very strong city feel. I treasure my friends and neighbors from back in those days. Much of my work either focuses on or references Mt. Airy. In my novel, ‘Living Just A Little,’ the protagonist lives over on St. George’s Road and takes the Chestnut Hill Local to get to work.”
Guy Sims graduated from Lincoln University in 1983, where he was the school’s poet laureate, earned a master’s degree from Arcadia University and a doctorate degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003. Dawud attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers U.) for one year and Tyler School of Art (Temple U.) for two years.
The brothers’ first collaboration on a graphic novel was with the creation of “Monster,” released by a major publisher, Harper Collins, in October of 2015. It was a graphic adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name about a teenage boy in juvenile detention by Walter Dean Myers, who died just as the final artwork by the Mt. Airy brothers was being completed.
But the brothers’ acclaim from comic book buffs stems from their comic book series, “Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline.” Dawud essentially did the artwork and Guy the words.
“Brotherman” was conceived to fill a void since the Mt. Airy brothers grew up reading comic books without African American characters.
“It was not an overnight epiphany,” explained Dawud. “I think it was just a reflection of who I am. I have always been drawing characters that were a reflection of myself and my interests since I was a child. ‘Brotherman’ was just the latest of many creations. I am proud of who I am and my culture and have always shared my love of self-image with the world. It just continuously refines as I mature.”
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003. The Museum opened to the public on Sept. 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.