Skip to main content
U-M Ross Business + Impact
U-M Ross Business + Impact
Map Your U-M Journey

Search

Socent Spotlight: Plucky Comics

Socent Spotlights are a series on U-M alumni who have created social enterprises and continue the work of entrepreneurship after graduation. In this post, we focus on Plucky Comics, a company specializing in telling the stories of Black Queer people through comic books.

Plucky Comics was founded in 2021 by Daniella Gennaro and Nathan Alston at the University of Michigan, specifically through the Impact Studio at Ross. To spread Black Queer stories and empower a future generation of students, Plucky built a team of artists to begin to tell the stories that they wish had been present when they were children. Within each of these stories are tales of Black Queer heroism, love, and resistance that deserve to be more widely known. 

Below, Nathan Alston answers our questions and clarifies where things are heading now for Plucky Comics.

What inspired you to create Plucky Comics?
First, I found myself deeply frustrated about the lack of Black Queer history in my education. Someone asked me about who my favorite Black Queer historical figure was and I genuinely had a hard time naming my favorite because I didn’t know any in detail. Plucky Comics came out of my desire to learn as much as possible about my people and to build opportunities for other Black Queer people (and allies) to quickly and easily learn about our heroes. In addition, when I spoke to Plucky’s co-founder and former teacher Daniella Gennaro, I learned that a lack of representation in school severely limits an individual’s ability to envision their future and this fact broke my heart. I desire to live in a world where everyone can celebrate who they are and can expand on the legacy of their historical figures.

Describe the niche that Plucky Comics fills.
Plucky joins the growing comic book and graphic novel industry. Specifically, we sell comics to both kids and adults that are grounded in history and showcase the art of Black Queer people. Typically, comics are dominated by white stories, so we are excited to offer something different that presents Black queer people as heroes. At its core, this is protest art, and that speaks to our readers.

What is your biggest recent discovery about founding your business? What do you like most about it?
My biggest discovery lately has been that you only receive what you put in. Success directly reflects the amount of work that you are able to put into the business. When I was an MBA student at Michigan, I had so much time and resources to focus on Plucky. But now with the full-time responsibilities of work and life, I have to be aggressive about carving out time for this business. It’s a constant battle to find time, resources, and energy but for me, it’s so worth it.

What I like most about this process is the opportunity to manage myself and to bring my own vision to life. I’m learning so much about my own perspective and the type of work I’d like to pursue.

Nathan Alston and Daniella Gennaro, photographed during their time at Michigan Ross.

What courses or UM entrepreneurship programs (like the Impact Studio) have helped you the most in building out your business?
I show gratitude to the Impact Studio as often as I can. During my time at Ross, I was an Entrepreneurship Fellow and I received coaching that helped me to start Plucky. Starting a business was never something I thought I’d want to do, but with their guidance, I was able to develop a business plan that worked for my idea. Big shout out to Managing Director Cat Johnson and Innovator-in-Residence Moses Lee for all their support.

What new ideas are you looking to pursue next?
I have a couple of ideas I’d like to pursue. First, I’d like to build another series on the Harlem Renaissance and begin to feature the work at Comic Cons and local comic book stores. Second, I’d also like to expand into other art forms that could feature Black Queer storytelling in ways other than just comic art. I’m excited about both of these ideas and eager to find thought partners and collaborators to bring these ideas to life!

Finally, at the end of June we will launch our final comic book in the Century series. It’s called Ferronica’s Mission and completes the story of Black Queer legend William Dorsey Swann. This series is particularly important to us because it is the first series we started when we were students at Michigan. Check out our website and add your email to our email list so you’ll know as soon as this comic is on sale.


Other Media Resources:
2021 Article from UM’s Center for Socially Engaged Engineering and Design
Watch Plucky Comics’ 2021 Learning Levers Prize Presentation
Listen to Plucky Comics’ 2023 interview on Michigan Public’s Stateside¬†Show