By: Guest Blogger Dave Kot, Founder of Autism at Face Value
©Autism at Face Value 2013
Pssst…Michael is The Zephyr! Revealed here for the first time, this comic book hero’s secret identity may not seem like a huge revelation. Does it matter more to know that Michael/The Zephyr is the world’s first Golden-Age Comic Book Hero with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?
In December, Autism at Face Value released Issue #1 as part of an on-going comic book series. Michael and his middle-school friends encounter fantastic steam-powered airships, sentient robots, and threats of global invasion. Typical challenges like bullying, test anxieties, and pre-teen romance help make his story relatable to readers. We understand our responsibility to uphold the individual dignity of persons with autism and other issues, like depression. Therefore, we carefully weave real-world diagnostic symptoms into an entertaining story. We want to show people what autism can be like, without fear or misunderstanding.
Like anyone, Michael and his friends make mistakes. However, Autism at Face Value emphasizes social learning, making our characters true heroes in a fight against prejudice. By definition, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) indicate social developmental difficulties. Our comics help teach readers better emotional understanding through facial feature recognition. Characters express clean, universal expressions like fear, happiness and sadness on a static page for future references. Speech bubbles give language to emotions. Finally, caption boxes places situations in context. This comic books becomes a social story.
Our goal is to help readers, especially children with autism, understand basic human emotions. Comic books become an entertaining and relatively inexpensive way to model and showcase facial expressions. Readers build empathy by understanding how and why people show different feelings. Predicting patterns of behavior, readers build compassion and empathy.
So, Michael is The Zephyr. No other comic book dared include a classic, genuine hero to compete for market space. We hope to change how people see a person with autism differently than they may have expected. In fact, Page Six may look upside down, but we want readers to literally change their perspectives! Our founder, Dave Kot, is an autistic adult and writes the script to include Michael’s voice. It’s just one voice, but an autistic voice largely underrepresented in comic books. Children need and want heroes like themselves. As The Zephyr would say, “It’s about time…”
Click here to find out more about Autism at Face Value.