Dyker Heights Native Talks Comics, Southern Brooklyn’s Artist Community, And Her Graphic Novel


Natalie Raffaele head shot by Matt Pavone and an image from ANANKE, via Kickstarter

Lifelong Dyker Heights resident Natalie Raffaele is inspired by Blade Runner, Alien and the way Downtown Brooklyn looks at night, when all the lights are on and the light contrasts so starkly with the dark.

“You don’t really get that in any other areas beyond Brooklyn, where you have these street lights casting shadows on the trees. I visually represented that in my story,” she told us over the phone. Her “story” is in fact a graphic novel, ANANKE, telling a tale about artificial intelligence and the course of human destiny.

In addition to Downtown’s lights, Raffaele told us she is also inspired by “the separation between the crazy NYC vibe, where there’s bustling and so many people, and Brooklyn, where it’s relaxed. That you can have these two different world but they’re all in the same place, it’s kind of like science fiction.”

“Man has finally done it. We have perfected Artificial Intelligence,” begins ANANKE’s Kickstarter page, where Raffaele is attempting to raise $20,000 in the next 19 days (she’s currently made close to half of her goal) to fund the prologue of the epic, which Raffaele compared to Game of Thrones in terms of sheer size.

Via Ananke's Kickstarter

Via Ananke’s Kickstarter

For approximately a year, Raffaelle has been working on the project with East Flatbush native Aaron Parks, together creating the illustrations and the concept art, working on the tone of the story. With the help from the Kickstarter, they’re hoping to have the first edition, the prologue, completed and in distribution. After that, Raffaelle plans to complete four more volumes of the story.

For the rest of the series, however, Raffaelle plans on going to a publisher.

Raffaelle expressed enormous gratitude for her Brooklyn upbringing and the large and supportive artist community she has discovered in southern Brooklyn since beginning work on the project. “I didn’t know that this was here until I actually got involved with it myself,” she said, adding that she hopes her work will inspire more female artists. “I want more women to look and see that this can be done,” she said.

“Also, the separation between the crazy NYC vibe where there’s bustling and people and Brooklyn where it’s relaxed. That you can have these two different worlds coexisting at once, I address that in the story.In science fiction writing it’s all about entering the unknown and exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking. That was homegrown at a very early age for me in Brooklyn.”

After growing up near Dyker Beach Park, Raffaele attended the Macaulay Honors program at Brooklyn College. “Brooklyn in general has followed me through my educational journey,” she said, “and it reinforced meeting different types of people, learning from them, and incorporating that type of exploration into my work.”

“One of the best thing living in Brooklyn has given me is feeling comfortable to explore new ideas. It trained me to accept and be open to new ideas and new relationships between people.”

This open mindedness has transferred over to her writing, she says.

As for her favorite local comic book shop, Raffaele named Bay Ridge’s Galaxy Comics, located directly next to the Alpine Cinema at 6823 5th Avenue. “Going there for me is like getting lost in a story,” Rafaelle recalled of her younger visits to the shop, “That was the closest comic store. That was my store.”

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