We’ve talked a little bit about why we chose the steampunk aesthetic for the comics at Autism at Face Value. The connection between steampunk and autism seems tenuous at first, but it’s really not.
Steampunk is an extremely intricate re-imagination of a steam powered future. People with autism are often really good at observing small details. The steampunk world abounds in fascinating minutiae. Look at any one character in our comics. You’ll see a detailed mash-up of Victorian and futuristic aesthetics. The clothing tends toward the Victorian. There can also be expansive details that are more futuristic, like wearing goggles or having tiny steam powered technology.
The emphasis on technology is another great link between steampunk and autism. Many people with ASD feel very comfortable with technology and as a whole, those with ASD, are very imaginative people. There aren’t a lot of rules about steampunk. So there’s plenty of room for people to dream up a new piece of steam powered technological equipment.
Technology has allowed greater opportunities for communication. For example, Carly Fleischmann does not use her voice to speak. However, this young college graduate, with autism, keeps readers well-informed through her world-famous blog and Facebook posts. With an expansive universe in social media, people with autism have more and unique avenues for self-expression than simply spoken words. In Issue #2, we introduce a mute character named Myra. You may be wondering, “How will she “speak?” in the comic. Yet you can trust that Myra will have a strong voice, even if she never utters a single word from her lips!
Finally, steampunk and autism actually go great together because of the inherent quirkiness of steampunk technology and aesthetics. The sky is the limit in steampunk. No one can tell you you’ve done steampunk wrong. It’s all imagination!
As stated by “Captain Robert,” of the steampunk rock band, Abney Park, “It takes a special kind of moron to argue that your “make believe” isn’t real enough.” With steampunk as the inspiration for our own steampunk comic world, we take that to heart as we connect fantasy themes to help kids and teens in the “real” world. Our comics may portray real emotions and use descriptive words, but they also are inventive!
The freedom to just explore and create can be really appealing for people with ASD. It’s hard to cope with the neurotypical world all the time. A steampunk universe can feel like a bit of a vacation, as do similar genres and technologies that we will soon explore, like bio-diesel power. Stay tuned!