Robot 6

Zachi Telesha, comics writer, passes away at age 12


When you know you don’t have a lot of time, you prioritize.

That’s what Zachi Telesha did. In August 2008, age 7, the Allentown, Pennsylvania, youth was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Telesha set himself a series of personal goals, and he died this week, at age 12, a published comics writer.

Telesha was a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School when the publisher Rodale, a corporate sponsor of the school, learned of his illness and his desire to write a comic. He spent five months working with Rodale staffers and teachers from his school to produce the graphic novel, Hero Up!, which features four superheroes — one of whom, Venom Transporter, was based on Telesha himself. “He can get bit by the most poisonous snake and spider at the same time repeatedly and still just get stronger,” Telesha explained in a YouTube video.

When the comic was complete, a run of 30 hardcover and 1,000 softcover editions was printed, and every Allentown public school library has a copy. There are rumors that Telesha was working on a sequel.

Cancer was not the only obstacle Telesha had to overcome: In 2009 his biological father beat his mother to death with a baseball bat. Telesha was in foster care and was adopted in 2011, and in the YouTube video, he focuses on the positive, the support he received from his family and friends. And like geeks everywhere, he liked to share his pleasures; he was instrumental in getting an XBox 360 donated to the hospital where he was treated, so the other pediatric cancer patients could enjoy it.

Beyond his work in comics, Telesha was an inspiration to his fellow students. A hallway at his school was named after him, and his fellow students wear “Z” T-shirts in his honor. A video made shortly before his death shows him clowning around with his IV port. “What he left us was more of a legacy than probably the richest man in Allentown,” said his science teacher, John Annoni.



That’s awful. I don’t know what to say…

What a tragedy. Zachi was an inspiration. R. I. P.

Looks like you can pick up the Hero Up! trade paperback by Zachi here for $12

Wow. That was one of the most inspirational and yet crushingly depressing stories I have read. Hard to believe someone so young can live through so much tragedy in such a short period of time and still be so positive. What an amazing kid.

More accomplished by 12 than I am at 29. Good on you, young sir.

Dead at 12 after a 5-year battle with cancer and having his mother murdered by his father (beaten to death with a baseball bat!) when he was just 8 years old. Could life be harsher or more unfair? This is simply horrible.

If I was religious, I would say he is with his mom. Rest in Peace, Little guy.

Man, what an inspiration!
I think the fine folks at CBR should contact big named artists to donate a sketch of his Characters and have them auctioned off for a Charity in his name!
I a sure you guys have the pull, and artists like Erik Larsen, Liefield would for sure do it!

This kid died a hero. Amazing story and a truly inspirational sense of accomplishment despite such tremendous levels of adversity. I hope every child in his situation is given the chance to live their life’s dreams.

I’m depressed by the people who just find this story “horrible”. Yes, it’s sad how he lost his family and it’s sad that he was sick. Some people’s lives are like that. But it’s inspiring that he was received the support of others to still pursue his dreams, and even accomplish some of them in his short life. It’s what we all should do.

Poor Zachii his family has to be in such a pain but now hes up in heaven nd he will get to see his mom again god bless him.:/

im so sad i lost a good friend ! he was such a nice person i wish his family the best of lucky & im verry sorry for there lost he was a verry nice boy ……he always told me stories :( i will never forget you ! your in a better place <3 r.i.p


Another Aaron

May 2, 2013 at 11:32 am

Well, that’s incredibly inspiring and depressing all at the same time.

Wow. I did not need a cry today, but will take that one. Next time I think that my life sucks, I can remember Zachi and say “So your life sucks. Now get something done.”

Sweet dreams with your beloved mom!

Matt Halteman

May 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Exactly, w.r.printz. That’s the same thing I got out of this. I was bummed earlier today because I wonder sometimes whether or not I’m doing the best I can do for my kids. But my kids are happy, healthy and loved and I have a good job and my health, as well.

Reading things like this just make me want to tell myself to shut the heck up and count my blessings.

This little guy went through so much and he didn’t let it crush him. On the contrary, he did more with what little time he had than most people do with 80 years. Wherever he is now, I hope he has found peace. No one deserves it more.

(Side Note: I really have to stop reading things like this at work.)

He is a genuine hero. He left his mark and inspired others at such a tender age. He’s testament to how special comic books can be to us. Looking at his eyes, I hope writers, pencilers and fans don’t take that for granted.

It Seems Only The Good Truly Die Young, R.I.P. Zachi.

All I can say is God bless and Godspeed. That kid faced life with his chin out and stay positive when he had all rights to shrink away.

What an inspiration to people everywhere. R.I.P. Zachi.

“I’m depressed by the people who just find this story “horrible”. Yes, it’s sad how he lost his family and it’s sad that he was sick. Some people’s lives are like that. But it’s inspiring that he was received the support of others to still pursue his dreams, and even accomplish some of them in his short life. It’s what we all should do.”

No matter how “inspiring” you may find his story and how he chose to deal with it, he IS dead, and that always will make it horrible.

Me, I will find it way much more “inspiring” if, somehow, he had managed to defeat the cancer.

And I can safely bet the kid himself would rather have his life being much less “inspiring” and much duller with a strong health and a still-living mother by his side.

I love this article and am deeply touched by it (I have never written anything on here before) I am ready to buy one of these graphic novels to support a foundation for this writer. I hope that someone in the industry (or company) picks this up and fully pushes it for release with ALL profits going to cancer research and/or supporting young writers in his name. Lets step up and make this happen as a community.

how sad that one like zachie died long before his time. at least he got to fullfill his dream of doing a comic plus his generous heart will live on when any kid plays the xbox he got for hospital. rip zack. you are gone way too soon

Zachi was a the living embodiment of the heroic saga. God bless him. And, thank you to Splendor76 for the link to his book. I bought one immediately. I encourage all of you to do the same!

He was a young man that just didn’t talk about it, he did it!

Brigid Alverson

May 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I want to add one thing, something I wish I had mentioned earlier: Zachi’s adoptive parents are also heroes here. The worst thing in the world is to have a child die, and yet they assumed that burden and from all accounts gave Zachi a wonderful life during the short time he had. And his teachers sound awesome too. I’m sure much of his spirit came from the love and support he got from the people around him.

Nathan Shinder

May 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

There’s hope yet for the younger generation.

Rest in Peace little man. Truly inspiring!

a sham that a wonderful kid like that is gone and evil scum still walk this planet goodbye zachi be at peace my friend

Thomas Carrieri

May 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

A great human being. Thanks for all your love little man!

George St. Louis

May 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm

that kid did more in his short life then I ever will. Awesome.

Wow, what a hero. If everyone had the positivity and motivation that this little guy had, even in their darkest hours, the world would be a much better place. Everyone who knew him is probably a better person simply for having known him. People like him bring out the best in everyone. RIP Zachi.

While he wasn’t around long, he lived a small part of what every 12yr old boy dreams of.
Well done, little man.
Well done.

This young warrior gave us all a powerful and positive lesson about our limited time on this little planet.

Go after your dreams, don’t waste time.

Aw man this is the worst thing Ive ever heard. Or read. Its great that he stayed so positive and managed to achieve his dream of publishing a comic and all, but man is this depressing

I was going to buy the book, but was unable to find any info on “Angel 34″ the non-profit organization that is selling it. I check on several charity watch sites and the BBB.

Rest in peace, my good fellow.

R.I.P. Zachi Telesha. I’m glad his dream came true . . .

Valentine Joseph

May 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

This reminds me of my brother who passed at the age of 23. He too was working on a comic book but passed before he had chanced to publish it. I found part of his manuscript on Wednesday, which coincide with my birthday. Just writing this is painful. I am happy that this kid had chance to pursue one of his dreams

Susan Telesha

May 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Some things in life are out of our control…the thing you can change is how you look at it and deal with it. Zachi believed that good things could even come out of some of the hardest circumstances.

Thank you for all the kind words about my son
Susan Telesha


May 5, 2013 at 8:57 am

Rest In Peace Little One! Work Well Done- But his question to us is “What are you doing with your dash?”

You can get the comic book at and the proceeds are for helping families that are dealing with Cancer, they did so much for Zachi!!

RIP Zachi

Thank you for your kind words for my son Zachi:

Here is his video celebrating his life. It’s his story:

rest peasce little guy

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