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KID SUCCESS : That Comic Super-Hero Is Really Mild-Mannered Jenny Lee

January 27, 1994|DEBORAH SULLIVAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jenny Lee never used to read comic books--until she became a character in one.

The 15-year-old sophomore at Arcadia High School won a contest sponsored by Defiant comics to become a super-hero in a new comic series "The Good Guys"

"I didn't (read comics before)," she said. "But it was just something fun to do. It was, I guess, a spontaneous thing."

Defiant created a cast of eight characters, then had a contest in search of real-life kids to match them, said Ed Polgardy, the comic's editor. Applicants submitted essays or artwork that explained how they would use their superpowers, and Defiant editors picked eight whose personalities and physical characteristics fit the roles.

The winners' faces were used as the models for their characters in the comic and their names were used for the characters' alter egos. Each received $1,000, a trip to Disneyland and royalties from future sales of the book.

Comic artist Grey, who drew "Good Guys," said Jenny's essay stood out clearly from the 2,000 submitted.

"She had a sense of charisma in her submission that just wasn't there for anyone else," he said.

"I would like my super-hero to be one that uses her brain to get out of tough situations rather than violence, but when she does fight, she uses her knowledge of martial arts," Jenny wrote. "My super-hero is fun-loving, stands up for what she believes in, and fights for equal rights for everyone, whether they are Asian or Caucasian, male or female, gay or straight."

Grey said Jenny's character, White Crane, "While being quiet, when pushed can become feisty. She's not combative, but doesn't back away."

When White Crane is not being a super-hero, she is named Jenny Lee, like Superman is Clark Kent.

Jenny got the news that she had won in the middle of October, and by the end of the month the first issue of "Good Guys" was released.

"It was kind of weird seeing me as a character," Jenny said. "But I read it and I liked it."

Lee's mother said she was not surprised to see her daughter cast as a super-hero.

"She's pretty smart," Pamela Lee said of her daughter. "She always got good grades at school. When we went to Anaheim, the editor told me she's one of the leaders of the Good Guys, one of the smartest ones. Sometimes power's not from your strength, it's from your mind."

Winning the contest has given Jenny a new hobby, in addition to swimming, martial arts, Hapkido, jazz dance and several school clubs.

"Now I go to the comic book store more often," she said.

Kid Success profiles teen-agers who have achieved some kind of extraordinary accomplishment, whether it is in school, in business, in arts, in kindness to others or in some other way.

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