Tag Archives: Mental Health

Wanna Make a Comic Book? My Invite, Please RSVP

Are you                Yup, I’ve whitewashed this blog post with a secret message! We’re going

Ready?                 to play a game, too. What kind of game? Well, I already gave you a clue…

Grab your pencils, and let’s do this thing!

Have you ever seen a white raven? If you saw a dozen ravens, how many would be white? 100 ravens? 1000 ravens? Hempel’s Paradox highlights problems of understanding based on faulty observations. In turn, these observations skew our perception of reality. Despite our best efforts, you and I are unlikely to see an albino white raven living in the wild, but they DO exist.

Like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects a white raven.

I want to change this social perception. Pffft- I know next to nothing about birds, though. I do, however, have personal and professional understandings about autism, mental health, and comic books. In hindsight, that’s an odd set of tools, huh?

If you have autism or mental health challenges, YOU are my audience. I contend few of us are published artists or writers. When I wrote a simple comic book, I received a disproportionate amount of media and scientific attention. In my mind, writing a comic book as an autistic adult shouldn’t have been international news. I was a white raven in the minds of too many people.

Since it’s Autism Awareness Month, I want to acknowledge how many of us need and still seek positive affirmations from family, friends, loved ones, and society in general. One way we may accomplish this is to do something spectacular and unexpected.

Let’s make a comic book(s) together.

(As much as my health permits me,) This week, I’ll be posting some submission guidelines. First, I want to make something crystal clear: I don’t care about an “official” diagnosis. I won’t be asking you for health or insurance information to “prove” yourself. I like you just as you as are, and encourage you to be your best self. Be kind. Be mindful. Be well-read. Be considerate of others’ points-of-view.

My goal is to help build up the confidence and self-worth (not ephemeral ‘self-esteem’) of the next generation of comic book artists and writers. To this end, I’m proposing a comic book anthology of short stories made by our audience at Face Value Comics. Our team will provide editing advice, tips to overcome writers’ block, and content suggestions for no financial charge. I envision a comic book of ?? pages, with art and stories by other “white ravens.” I want the unseen to be seen. I want those of us with autism and mental health to grow as budding professionals deserving of recognition for our talents and attempts. We acknowledge how comic books are a multi-million dollar industry so our collective efforts may become more than idle busy work.

So, is this something of which you’d like to be a part? Please openly share this message with other social media channels. We welcome input and content from like-minded friends. The world already knows me. Let’s use this recognition to open doors for other new talents.

Oh- here’re my initial thoughts of the project:

  1. Pick a real-life historical “culture.” Examples may include, but are not limited to- British Knights, Celts and Vikings, Aztecs, Maori, Maasai, and more. How “historic” is historic? How about this idea: a high school student should be able to write an informative research paper about this group with citational references. In other words, don’t give knights laser guns (yet).
  2. Pick a fictional challenger(s) found in classic literature. Again, some examples include dinosaurs, robots, ninjas, aliens, pirates, vampires, etc. NOTE: “Zombies” are not found in the classic literature; they’re out of scope for this project. Sorry, not sorry- ask Kirkman if he’s doing anything like we propose, if zombies are your groove.
  3. All content must fall under suggestions found for PG-rated movies.
  4. Our team will assemble a good sampling of the content, based on artists’ attention to the initial directions (above). Submissions will fall under ONE PAGE, TWO PAGES, and FOUR PAGES of sequential comic book art.
  5. Next, we invite writers. They will interpret the visual art and craft a story based around it so our heroes win and tell a good story. Again, we will provide editing, suggestions, etc. free of charge.
  6. We’ll collect these stories into an anthology comic book graphic novel and release it as professionally-published content.
  7. “Compensation” and financial discussions must wait- that topic deserves its own post. Actually, so do most of these initial guidelines. Well, at least you know what’s coming later this week, eh?

I’ve been told to mention that Face Value Comics is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization; we can accept donations. I’m leery of this point, though; I won’t be bullied into publishing someone’s content based on a financial donation.

Today, my doctor gave me some not-good news. Rather than whine or beg for sympathy, I ask for your help to distract me from it. Let’s fight social stigmas. Together, let’s make something magical and build stronger skills…to show ourselves to the world how we are MORE than our diagnostic labels.

I hope the world stops defining me/us by what I am NOT, but rather who I AM.

TL;DR: I’m inviting persons with autism and mental health challenges to help make an anthology of short comic book stories.

Unmasked, Part One

Comic books invoke daydreams. Regardless of how bad villains become, fans expect their hero to win. Most major protagonists, or heroes, have a weakness. Smart opponents exploit character flaws for their own gain. In Face Value #1, we have many stories to tell about overcoming human frailties. Hopefully, our heroes win. The story begins with advocacy.

Face Value Comics, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We chose this designation to represent our commitment to community. Maybe we’ll make a sizeable profit from comics and related merchandise (Pssst- we already have designs for a line of fully articulated action figures, and storyboards for more than eighteen months of comic book plot). Most likely, every cent we derive from sales goes into funding the next issues.  Money isn’t our biggest problem. Instead, we face the same challenge that many children have, with or with an ASD diagnosis: acceptance.

Look at other comic books. How many feature a hero with autism? Batman aligned with Lucas, a young boy with autism, but for only one issue in 2011. Also from DC Comics, Black Manta fights Aquaman, but has been inexplicably “cured” of his ASD. Marvel Comics’ database lists five “Characters who exhibit or have been diagnosed with autism,” here: http://marvel.wikia.com/Category:Autism_spectrum.  Readers take note: two of the five characters are the same person. Furthermore, Marvel’s official article appears with category tags: “Mental Illness Weakness (emphasis added).”

Sincerely, I applaud any attempt to include autistic characters by Marvel and DC Comics. Few brave writers discuss autism outside of blog posts or scientific study. Fewer writers seem to believe children with autism can be capable of doing grand things, like being an aquatic-dwelling, infant-murdering, criminal mastermind. My bucket list pales by comparison.

Relaxin' Chillaxin
Being different doesn’t automatically make someone or something a monster.

Our comics FEATURE a hero with autism. Make no mistake- the entire series is Michael’s story. He doesn’t have superpowers. Michael doesn’t have a spiffy catchphrase forced upon readers. His best friend isn’t a do-good vigilante sidekick. Honestly, Michael will be lucky to pass his most-recent science test! His greatest ability, aside from art and a mathematical mind, is compassion. Michael tries to understand his world during an on-coming alien invasion. Face Value Comics never had intentions of being like a heart-warming, tea-sipping, kitten-cuddling, after-school television show. We tell a great science-fiction story to keep readers’ interests.

Social injustice and prejudices against children with ASD requires more grit than fluffy promises. Reader’s aren’t sheep. Kids recognize comic books that have action and long-term plot. Face Value Comics isn’t just another therapeutic tool disguised as entertainment. Our team just has decades of combined experience with professional comic books AND mental health advocacy. Like Michael, Face Value Comics makes no apologies for who we are. Like Michael, we only ask for some time for people to understand something different and new.

Will you like Michael?

Will you like Face Value Comics?

© Face Value Comics 2013

Advocacy on Day #1 (LINK)

Advocacy on Day #1 (LINK)

This link helps explain our mission at Face Value Comics. Dave Kot answers a professional critique about the social misperceptions inherent with fictional stories, and autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. Our goal has been to listen to the pain of misunderstanding, because we share it, too. However, we offer a new role-model for children…one like themselves.


© Face Value Comics 2013