Risk-taking, independent comics creator Sina Grace (Stevenson ‘08, literature) takes on the legacy of teenage Superman, exploring the vulnerabilities of The Man Of Steel

Grace with one of his favorite UCSC mentors—Karen Tei Yamashita—and UCSC peers. Left to right: Camille Campbell (Cowell ’08, literature), Grace, Yamashita, and Megan Healey (Stevenson ’08, literature). (Photo courtesy Sina Grace)

No one escapes the travails of being a teenager - not even the mighty Superman.

Acclaimed comics creator Sina Grace (Stevenson ‘08, literature) has brought this chapter of Superman’s life to light in the newly published DC graphic novel Superman: The Harvests of Youth. 

The book tells the story of Clark Kent in his adolescence in Smallville, struggling with the sudden death of a friend and facing off against dark forces that force him to confront his own vulnerabilities to become the hero his town needs. 

“Taking on the story of Superman as a teenager felt like one of the most liberating tasks I’ve been assigned in a long time,” Grace said. “It’s been over two decades since Clark Kent’s teenage years have been explored in depth, and the stories I’ve seen since then never seemed to approach the actual issues I faced as a teenager.”

“I focused on the personal and honored my friendships in high school and thought about the tools I needed to survive the most intense years of my life,” Grace said. “With those vibes, a constant stream of cottagecore music playlists, and leaning into an innate desire to pepper in cool fight scenes, my take on Clark felt like one all of its own.”

Before working on his Superman book, Grace wrote and illustrated the graphic novel/memoirs Self-Obsessed, Not My Bag,and Nothing Lasts Forever. He was the artist for Li’l Depressed Boy, a comic based on a web series with a cult following.

He also gained widespread attention for writing Iceman, Marvel’s first series to put an out gay male superhero at top billing. Later, in a reflective Tumblr post, he described the aftermath of that experience: “Being stuck at home in quarantine has given me a lot of time to reflect on the gift that my career to date has been, and I feel so grateful to be where I am today,” Grace wrote. 

Grace has maintained close connections to UCSC since the launch of his successful career. 

He has returned frequently to the Creative Writing Program and individual classes to present his work and talk to students about their career paths. Early in his career, he illustrated Karen Tei Yamashita's I Hotel, professor of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who retired in 2019.

“Dang, I love her,” Grace enthused last year. “I’m so lucky she was my teacher.” Grace has called Yamashita and another of his mentors, professor of literature and director of the Creative Writing Program Micah Perks, “such an amazing team—compassionate and engaged.”