Category Archives: Steampunk

Autism, Steampunk, and Comic Books – An Invitation into My World

March 28th, 2017 is an especially happy day for me.

Someone very special to me celebrates their birthday!

Today is the 25th anniversary of Christian Laettner’s Shot. #sorrynotsorry

ZekeZapAs March closes, our team invite our fans to consider Captain Zeke Zap of Face Value Comics.

Captain Zeke Zap loves his steampunk aerial drones. As leader of the para-military group, “E-Z Squad”, Cap’n Zap employs different drones for combat, communication, and spying. The Blind Blaster of Blue Fox Bay uses kinetic energy created by drone movement to see through his cybernetic-like eyes.

For example, I asked our artist, Sky Owens, to create a special drone for our comic book story. I described this drone as having a pint-sized canister of pressurized helium. Add legs/wheels for eventual landing balance. Place a boxy Victorian camera atop the canister. Position small propellers at each corner, and an inflatable balloon in the center. As remote control levers flip, propellers move and direct this drone. Pressurized gas inflates the balloon and gives it height, and cause propeller blades to spin as the gas circulates through different hoses and valves. Captain Zap can “see” what the camera lens sees as it moves (but not while this drone is stationary), using “bio-kinetic” energy. Add a small megaphone to the drone body, or create another drone for a separate source of information.

Can you imagine this drone, and how it could be used in the Victorian steampunk era? Can you do better? Sky’s artistic interpretation will appear in an upcoming issue…

Would you, or someone you love with autism, want to be part of our creative comic book experiences?

Using the information suggestion table below, decide your level of skill. Also note: we won’t need documentation nor verification of an autism diagnosis; we use an honor system for possible submissions.

Beginner Can draw/ink/color a steampunk drone. Can verbally and logically describe an aerial drone that seems plausible during the Victorian steampunk era.
Intermediate …in a scene with implied action(s) where this drone and Zeke Zap are featured. …with interesting sci-fi twists regarding its functionality, purpose, use, consequences, relationship with Zeke Zap, etc.
Advanced …and build upon cause-and-effect relationships of the steampowered drone functions in a series of sequential art. …and artful direct scenes of sequential art that incorporates and features Captain Zap and this new drone.

This invitation may spark many questions from our fans. Based on the number of inquiries, we are prepared to continue the conversation about including autistic-created fan art in future publications. Furthermore, we may explore mentoring potential autistic talent in the comic book creation business.

For now, consider your skill levels. Practice. Read (free) guides on drawing and storytelling. Let your imagination soar. This sample direction (see table, above) serves as suggestions. Again, based on fan inquiries about this opportunity, we will discuss submission guidelines throughout April 2017.

At worst, you’ve something to do on a rainy day. At best, we will help mentor new talent with the community’s help. Please save submissions until we set a definitive date; all submissions received before a designated date will not be considered for legal reasons. (I was told I had to write that last line. –Dave)

What questions do you have?

Autism (Self) Advocacy = Best Advocacy

I want our social media to be a safe place for persons living with autism. Here, I want to discuss comic books, education sciences, safety, and self-worth. My goal is to offer hope by invoking these topics, and providing positive examples.

Autism advocacy must evolve, because society always changes. However, our path forward seems foggy. In our household, we have two individuals with two different expressions of autism. Aside from kindness, love, and patience, “autism advocacy” will mean many different things under our roof.

Therefore, I am shifting my focus about autism advocacy. I will begin more self-advocacy and self-disclosure. You are invited along for my journey. These experiences will unfold in future blog posts, videos, and comic books.

An important and lengthy telephone call helped cement this direction. Talking with our artist, Sky Owens, he posed an important question: do we want Face Value Comics to be a socio-political soapbox, or a kid-friendly story about a hero like themselves? Why would an autistic person choose our comic book over any other title? Readers expect comic book stylized action sequences, so what abilities, motivations, or personality makes the Zephyr a hero to kids with autism?

As we expand our comic book line, these questions help remind me of my original goal: kids need heroes like themselves. This means curbing my own misguided self-righteousness against any number of specific social ills. Instead, larger and more relatable arcs can be represented.

In future blog posts, I will likely ask very candid questions. Make no mistake: I seek thoughtful answers, not conspiracy theories, political rhetoric, circular answers, nor “alternative facts.” With some questions, I will certainly appear unintelligent. I am. The longer I fight for autism (self) advocacy, the more I realize how much I do not understand. Aren’t some problems with autism tied to misunderstanding unwritten social expectations?

Our world changes daily. Information doubles exponentially. How do we juggle real life demands while being autism advocates? I submit self-care and self-advocacy are our best achievements. At the end of each day, being our best selves is the best form of advocacy anyone can do. I cannot address nor imagine what your “best self” is; only you and your loved ones can help. As for me, I ask you to follow me as I (re)explore autism self-advocacy. Together, we can learn. Together, we can be equals, knowing we try our best to be our best.


We’ve finished twelve pages of our next comic book. We have clear examples of emotive facial expressions, villains coded by color gradients (“Cool” colors = good; “Warm” colors = bad), PG-graded action/combat situations, steampunk imagery, and heroic endings (or cliffhangers). We anticipate a release this spring, and will continue to keep our fans apprised of news.


Face Value Comics places great emphasis on education. Comic books traditionally lack educational merit, but appeal to a wide audience. President of the Canadian Council on Learning, Dr. Paul Cappon, said, “educators and parents embraced comics as a positive teaching and learning tool (Paton, 2010).”

Before Issue #1 has printed, several educators asked about our educational content. Face Value Comics replied:  We introduce one alien race, the Chillaxin. They are anthropomorphic bioluminescent fungi, whose color hues change when they become glad, mad, or sad. We use onomatopoeia as naming conventions for some characters. Names have significant meaning, too. For example, take Claudia Faust. Her last name pays homage to the Germanic epic poem, while her first name means “lame” in Latin. Now, astute readers may predict Claudia’s future behaviors. Our specially powered bio-droids mimic cog-and-spring clockwork devices with hy·phen·at·ed speech. The Jartavi, an evolved sea-horse group, speak using fənɛtɪks (phonetics).

Most importantly, Face Value Comics utilizes the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). We believe readers will 1) learn how expressed emotions look, 2) see appropriate language that matches feeling, and 3) take ownership of facial feature recognition, as a tool to understand emotional regulation. This strategy drives Face Value Comics, Inc. Our name reflects this goal.

Cass hopes readers will like her.
Cass hopes readers will like her.

We tell a grand adventure, too! Unlike any comic book in the world, our main protagonist has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many of Michael’s middle-school friends also have real-world mental health symptoms, like anxiety and depression. Using professional mental health experiences, explicit consultations, and criteria drawn from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), we present behavioral symptoms on a page with utmost respect. ALL people deserve dignity and a voice. Face Value Comics gives ONE voice to many under-represented groups within comic books. Our characters strive to feel safe, wanted, and successful. Their “super heroism” is a relentless passion to be accepted and understood. Face Value Comics begins with a galactic invasion involving aliens and robots. Prejudice looms as a bigger threat, just for being like any kid with some problems.

Join the fight…against misunderstanding! Maybe readers will learn some grammar. Some may like the Victorian-era steam-powered technologies. Hopefully, our fans see Michael and his friends as real people. Kids need heroes like themselves.


Paton, G. (2010, August 13). Comic books ‘help boys to read.’ Retrieved 11/03/13, from

© Face Value Comics 2013


Dear Chris Latta,

Thank you for making cartoons fun during the 80s. I woke-up early on Saturday Mornings to have breakfast with Cobra Commander, Starscream, and Cravex. Imagine my surprise to learn how each of these iconic characters shared the same voice actor: Chris Latta (you). Spider-man and His Amazing Friends fought the Sandman you. The Simpsons continues long after your passing, but I remember your voice as an early C. Montgomery Burns. Excellent, Mr. Latta…excellent.

What happened to children’s entertainment? When you left us in 1994, another void occurred. Live-action child actors replaced traditional animated cartoons. Comic books characters flopped, whose artists followed a rapid cookie-cutter template. Toys became expensive collectors’ treasures, not rugged playthings. I shed a tear for your passing, as well as uninspired imaginations we inherited.

Let me share some good news and hope, Mr. Latta. Face Value Comics debuts this month. We’re the first comic book to feature a hero with autism. This social communication disorder wasn’t prevalent during your lifetime, but now autism affects more than 1% of children worldwide. We only know its symptoms.  Professionals help children and their families understand the social world around them. This is why I founded Face Value Comics. I love discussing the science behind our comic book, but let’s have fun on a Saturday Morning…like we used to do.

The Zephyr vs. ???
The Zephyr vs. ???

In Face Value Comics, we have a Victorian-era society driven by steam-power. Therefore, gadgets and equipment use imagination as well as compressed steam, or solar power.

In Face Value Comics, we have the Chillaxin. This bioluminescent fungi-race returned to Earth after centuries of forced expansion following the dinosaurs’ extinction.

In Face Value Comics, we have the Jartavi. Resurfacing from our deep oceans, these evolved sea-horses seem playfully curious and almost magical.

In Face Value Comics, we have The Shimmer. These women-warriors watch humanity’s social progress and sit as cosmic judges of our destiny.

In Face Value Comics, we have a comic-within-a-comic! The Zephyr is a do-good costumed crime-fighter. He wears “steampunk” gear and sometime sports a very special electric sword…”mMuhTZAP!” The Zephyr gives our middle-school hero – Michael – fantasy and hope of a better future.

Dr Moebius asks, "how do you feel?"
Dr Moebius asks, “how do you feel?”

Isn’t creative play the goal behind all comic books and kids’ entertainment, Mr. Latta? I figured you may know best. Personally, I can hear your voice as our fiendish mad scientist – Dr. Darling Moebius!

Be well, Mr. Latta…wherever you are.


Dave Kot, Founder of Face Value Comics, Inc.


© Face Value Comics 2013