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Homemade heroes

Superpickle, Dorky Don, and Superpancake came to save the day at Clifton Park's comic book camp last week.

About 16 campers ranging in age from 7 to 13 created the superheroes, along with villains and victims in need of rescue, as they plotted out their panels, chose their colors and checked their spelling at one of the camp offerings this season sponsored by Clifton Park's Parks and Recreation Department.

Casey Karl, 7, eagerly explained his in-progress comic book.

It's kind of about Cruella De Vil (of 101 Dalmations fame) who has twins and they go to a secret Ninja school, and they look for a secret treasure, but first they have to break some boards, Karl said.

His first panel featured Casey and his neighbor, saying "Hi" in big bubbles over their heads. The twins, Ninja school and boards come later, he said.

Another camper, Marc Sanford, 9, drew inspiration from a faraway family member.

"My Aunt Sue " she's in the 82nd Airborne," he said. "Sweetpickle wants to take secrets from the U.S. force. Superpickle stops him. Superpickle has the power of dill."

He pointed to a panel of Aunt Sue held by a giant claw suspended over a lava pit, explaining that Superpickle would be rescuing her from the evil Sweetpickle.

Fellow comic book artist Joseph Grae, 7, chimed in to explain the extent of Superpickle's reach.

"He can jump over buildings," Grae said.

"He can jump over the Empire State Building," amended Niko Stroud, 8. Then expanding on the theme, Stroud added, "He can jump under ground and then jump all the way up to the Empire State Building and then up to the moon."

Stroud's own hero, Supertongue, sported three "really long" tongues, he said.

The campers had spent several days learning to draw and working up rough draft panels, said their camp counselor Shannon Haegele, a Clifton Park native now living in Troy. Haegele, who will finish a master's degree in literacy this month, said the comics were a great way to inspire not only fun but also learning.

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