There’s a new super hero in town and he’s already a huge hit with the Autism Community. Just days after its release, the first issue of Face Value, the world’s first comic book series featuring an autistic hero, is sold out. Parents of autistic children are flocking to buy (or back-order) the comic that not only shows children that their ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) can be an asset, but aims to help them better understand emotions.
The year is 2072 and the Steampunk (a futuristic world powered by steam, rather than electricity) Earth is threatened by a race of aliens who have declared humans dangerously emotional. Enter our hero, Michael, a middle school aged boy with autism who must fight through social pressures, misunderstandings, and bullying on his way emotional understanding of himself and others. He’s helped along on his journey of emotional discovery of his therapeutic robot support staff and science.
The comic books are also aided by science, employing tested teaching techniques of visually encoding emotions. In other words, the comic features exaggerated drawings of the characters’ facial expressions, linking them with specific emotions.
Founded by Dave Kot in the United Kingdom, Face Value aims to provide both education and entertainment focusing on emotional understanding in social situations. It’s based on an ideal of Comic Awareness; both the use of comic books as a means to share a message like autism awareness, and helping people with ASD to decode emotions by being made aware through comics.
“Everyone can learn more about emotions,” says Kot, “anyone with any level of autism can learn and utilize this.” The Face Value series is geared towards the middle school set and pledges to be strictly PG rated, but it may lead to comics for a more mature audience.
The first issue of the comic is sold out, but the company urges parents to ask their local comic books store to back order it – and pre-order the next issue to be released in October. The first issue is also available for digital online purchase. Whether or not the comic unlocks emotional understanding for its autistic readers, it can only help them to see that what makes them different also makes them special. It may even help people without autism understand their autistic peers a little bit better.