Concrete Park Is Returning With A New Superhero, And His Name Is Kurtzberg

Concrete Park Is Returning With A New Superhero, And His Name Is Kurtzberg

Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander are bringing Concrete Park back to Dark Horse Presents, and this time, their award-winning graphic novel series features an immortal hero with a very familiar-sounding name.

San Diego, CA – July 10, 2015 –

Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear today announced their new, multipart story arc for Concrete Park, their sci-fi graphic novel series from Dark Horse Comics.  To be called “The Legend of Kurtzberg”, the story will feature an immortal Jewish hero who shares a name with The King of Comics, Jack Kirby (real name, Jacob Kurtzberg). The story will be serialized in Dark Horse Presents, the Eisner Award-winning anthology where Concrete Park got its start. Dark Horse Presents is edited by Dark Horse Founder and Publisher Mike Richardson.

The overtones and echoes of both comics history and Jewish mysticism are striking. In Concrete Park’s fictional “Scare City”, the mysterious “Kurtzberg” functions as something of a otherworldly savior, but is also a potentially evil, almost Dybbuk-like figure. Like a Dybbuk, he is a dislocated spirit of a dead person made flesh. Puryear and Alexander named him in honor of Kirby, comics’ greatest creator, but say that until they developed the immortality angle, the character was almost doomed to be a one-shot.

“Kurtzberg first appeared in Chapter 2 of Concrete Park, Volume 2: R-E-S-P-E-C-T” says Puryear. “We had a gate our hero had to pass. It was just an opening in a wall. The real gate was the opening’s guardian, a giant of a man. I was lucky enough to meet Jack Kirby when I was a kid, and his work inspired me. For us as new comics creators, Kirby’s massive work and enormous influence stood athwart our path as something to be dealt with. As the old gospel song says: ‘So high, you can’t get over it, so low, you can’t get under it, so wide, you can’t get around it, you must come in at the door’. That’s Kirby for us.”

“So we called this human gate of ours, this huge guy you have to deal with, ‘Kurtzberg’” Alexander continues, “and he’s famous all over Scare City as ‘The Kurtzberg Gate. Then we killed him off at the end of Chapter 2, or almost did, until we thought better of it! He was such a great character, we couldn’t kill him off. We left it just vague enough so that we could later claim ‘actually he’s not dead, he just looked that way, he’s um, immortal, yeah, that’s the ticket.”

Once the “immortality bit”, as Kirby would have called it, fell into place, the character snapped into focus, and demanded his own story arc.

Puryear says “He’s immortal, he’s damn near indestructible, why? What happened to him? It makes for a character with a great duality. He may be helping people, today, but there’s this dark, possessed side of him that’s always there. We’re going to have so much fun exploring that duality. I can only hope Jack Kirby would approve.”
“The Legend of Kurtzberg” will be serialized monthly in Dark Horse Presents.

About Concrete Park
Set in a disturbing near-future, Concrete Park is a gritty science-fiction epic that deals with issues of race, poverty and exile. Concrete Park has garnered critical and fan acclaim for bringing color and controversy to sci-fi. The ongoing series was co-created by actress Erika Alexander (Living Single, DejaVu, Elsa & Fred) and her husband, the screenwriter Tony Puryear (Eraser, Fahrenheit 451) and her brother, writer Robert Alexander. It is published by Dark Horse Comics.

The Berkeley Graduate called Concrete Park “Brilliant” for its epic scale and its sweeping, multi-ethnic cast. Concrete Park first appeared in the Eisner Award-winning Dark Horse Presents, edited by Dark Horse Comics founder and Publisher Mike Richardson, from 2012 to 2013. It was selected as one of The Best American Comics, 2013 and appeared in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt book of that name. Concrete Park appeared in its own monthly Dark Horse series, Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T in 2014 and 2015. A hardcover collection Concrete Park Vol.1: You Send Me, was published by Dark Horse Books in October, 2014. The series’ second hardcover collection, Concrete Park Vol.2: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, was released in May, 2015.

Concrete Park tells a dark and provocative near-future story that takes place in a turbulent city on a distant, desert planet (think Cairo or Rio in space). Young human exiles from Earth must fight to make a new world there. They are “young, violent and ten billion miles from home”. Amid the struggle to survive this harsh urban environment there is also hope and beauty. Erika Alexander co-writes and Puryear co-writes and draws, inks and colors the book.

Concrete Park creators Puryear and Alexander travel constantly to speak and teach about comics and graphic novels, and they are becoming known for their ongoing “Concrete Park Earth Tour”, where they combine real-world appearances with radio, podcasts and video to spread their gospel of a colorful future. Past stops on the tour, which began in 2012, have included a now-legendary radio appearance in Karachi, Pakistan, and a whirlwind tour in which they spoke at every high school and university in the Central American country of Belize at the invitation of that country’s government. In their most recent appearance, they were invited to speak at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center.

About Erika Alexander

Erika Alexander is a television trailblazer and a comics maverick. Bill Cosby created the role of "Cousin Pam" for her on The Cosby Show.  She starred for five years as fan favorite "Maxine Shaw"in the hit series Living Single, winning two NAACP Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy.  She recurs on the ABC Tim Allen comedy, Last Man Standing as Carol Larrabee, "the black Sarah Palin".

She recently co-starred in the film Elsa And Fred with Academy Award-winning actors Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, directed by Michael Radford. Erika is the co-creator and co-writer of the critically acclaimed, Best American Comic 2013, graphic novel Concrete Park, published by Dark Horse Comics. @Concretepark.

Erika is married to screenwriter and comic book illustrator Tony Puryear. She's recently added ‘online star” to her resume as the writer/producer of the hit New York Times-recommended, original, online comedy series, The BFF Chronicles with Erika Alexander and Kim Coles. 

About Tony Puryear

Tony Puryear is a screenwriter, an artist and designer, and the co-creator of the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel series Concrete Park.

Tony grew up in New York City, attended The Bronx High School of Science and majored in Art at Brown University. He worked in advertising at J. Walter Thompson, NY under its then-creative director, the novelist James Patterson. Tony directed hip-hop videos for such legendary acts as EMPD, K-Solo and LL Cool J.

In 1996, Tony became the first African-American screenwriter to write a $100 million-dollar summer blockbuster with his script for the Arnold Schwarznegger film Eraser. The film went on to gross nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. Tony has written sci-fi and action scripts for A-listers Mel Gibson, Oliver Stone, Jerry Bruckheimer and Will Smith.

He was honored as a designer when his 2008 presidential campaign poster for Hillary Clinton was added to the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

With his wife, the actress Erika Alexander, Tony co-writes and draws Concrete Park. This sci-fi adventure series was selected as one of The Best American Comics, 2013.