For years, I've repurposed old, metal lunchboxes. A Rambo lunchbox became a lunchbox dedicated to Great Women of Literature. Another honored Great Writers of the South. More recently, I've dedicated a lunchbox to The Donner Party. For a long time, though, I've had it in my head to create the ultimate Superhero Lunchbox...not a lunchbox featuring Batman or Wonder Woman, but a box honoring my real-life heroes.

I posed this challenge to a wide circle of friends: get your hands on a metal lunchbox, and put some thought into who or what your heroes are, and why. And then get to work making the Superhero Lunchbox of your dreams.

This online exhibit is the result of that challenge. I hope visitors to this site will find it fun and interesting, and maybe even inspiring. Lunchboxes are such useful things, and so many of us have fond memories of toting tuna sandwiches to school in our Partridge Family or Six Million Dollar Man lunchboxes. There seems to me to be no reason for us to outgrow this tradition of toting around our meals in metal boxes that say something about who we are, what we like, and what our values are. I know I've never outgrown it.

Start here, because it's what started it all for me, and work your way up. Enjoy. Leave some feedback. Make a lunchbox.

For a more detailed view, click on the individual images.

If you're moved to make a lunchbox of your own, and have it included in this exhibit, submissions are welcome. Get your hands on a metal lunchbox (no plastic, please) - you can buy a blank one from or repurpose an old one. Go to town. Choose your superhero, and and run with it. Photograph your finished lunchbox, write a few words about your subject, and send the photos and text to me at, with the words "Superhero Lunchbox" in the subject box.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Robert Sanchez

Starting the Superhero Lunchbox Challenge was really daunting. Who was I going to choose to depict as a superhero? A group of individuals? Someone in history? Someone I knew? Finally I decided to limit it to one person, and chose a superhero who did something with no thought for longevity or greatness, but has become a symbol for freedom. I chose the man commonly referred to as “Tank Man," the man who stood down a line of four tanks in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 student protests for economic reform and liberalism in China. (I decided to call him “Tank Guy,” Tank Man sounded formal and almost like the actual name of a Marvel comic book character, and I liked the familiarity of calling him “Tank Guy,” just a regular guy who made an extraordinary decision.)

On one side of the lunchbox, I used the famous Associated Press image of the unidentified man in action, “artifying” it in Photoshop in a metallic tint and adding “Tank Guy” in a superhero-esque font. On the opposite side, I used a photo of Tiananmen Square, also artified through Photoshop, with the image of the gentleman in four graduated sizes soaring toward the sky, with “Real Superhero” in the same font as the other side. I also include the phrase “superhero lunchbox” in the bottom left corner, and “Tiananmen Square” in the bottom right corner. I used a clear sealant on both sides to protect the images.

On the narrow sides of the lunchbox, I used dual Chinese symbols for peace and freedom for added decoration. On the bottom, I placed the symbols for righteousness and love.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, wow, Robert. This looks like the real McCoy! IT's really beautiful! I really love the elegance of your design. This is the kind of thing I always think I am going to do, but instead it always comes out looking like third grade. Also, what a great superhero!