Bears’ Israel Idonije serves as creative force behind comic book series (pics)
Much like yours truly, Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije split his time between playing football and being a comic book nerd.
Granted, by the time Idonije, born in Nigeria and growing up in Canada, first started playing football in high school, my sports career was finished while he went on to attend the University of Manitoba before parlaying his talent into an 11-year NFL career after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2003 before enjoying a successful career with the Chicago Bears with a one-year sojourn with the Detroit Lions.
With more behind him in his NFL career than what’s left in front of him, Idonije began to consider what he is going to do when his NFL career is finished, but not just something he enjoyed, but something that could prove to be a profitable business endeavor as well.
Pursuing a career in comics seemed like a perfectly logical choice.
“What do you want to do when you’re done playing,” Idonije told the Sporting News. “What does your life look like after football is over? I’m fortunate that I understand football is very finite. The chapter will be over, and you have to start preparing now.”
has been collaborating with comic book writer Ron Marz and artist Bart Sears on “The Protectors,” which has two issues, No. 0 and No. 1, currently available.
He also has begun work on “Sports Heroes,” with both series being distributed by Athlitacomics, which has a licensing agreement with NFL Players, Inc., which is good, given the latter comic is based on modern players, whom he refers to as “real life heroes.”
“They are heroes every day,” he said. “Just like kids look up to Spiderman, they look up to Brian Urlacher, Tom Brady, Julius Peppers. I want to tell players’ stories, and give my fans a behind the scenes look at my life in comic form.”
He’s even featured on the cover of a limited edition issue of “The Protectors” No. 0 issue:
Idonije grew up a huge fan of Green Hornets’ sidekick, Kato, not to mention the X-Men, Iron Man and Black Panther, his favorite.
Along with Marz and Sears, the lineman came up with a cast of characters for the comics.
Defensive end Isaac Chike — bearing a close resemblance to Idonije — has an energy force field around him. Hockey goaltender Gerard Rioux can manipulate storms. Baseball third baseman Miguel Monteiro has energy burst controls. Women’s soccer player Danielle Peters can transform molecules. A genetic spark, when fully activated by Galek the Ageless One, gives them their incredible abilities and leads them into their first battle with the Dissenters.
Idonije self-published the first two issues of “The Protectors,” and with his partnership with Athlitacomics, five more issues are on their way, along with more new characters.
“I want it to be the best in the entertainment comic business,” Idonije said.
But it’s even more than that for him. Like many fans of comics, Idonije sees far beyond the stories contained in comics into what lies underneath: The timeless themes of what truly constitutes heroism.
“We have to make right decisions to make the world better,” he said. “We all have gifts and skills, and can join in the fight in making our world better.”