Father and comic book enthusiast Chip Reece has created a superhero with Down Syndrome so his son can have a character to look up to. Upon finding out that his son would be born with Down Syndrome, Reece scoured through his comic book collection hoping to find a hero that his son could connect with. His search, sadly, was fruitless.
The comic book medium has moved forward in a lot of ways in recent years, but there was a clear lack of characters with Down Syndrome when Reece completed his research. It has been said that Cyborg represents disabled people in Justice League because he lost mobility after a sporting accident, but people with conditions like Down Syndrome are not represented in the traditional superhero world.
"There's Iron Man with heart issues. That's his whole story," Reece told CBS News, pointing out another superhero with a physical ailment. But these characters aren’t really what Reece was looking for: "I wanted a character my son could physically see as himself. Facial features are a big thing." So, to make sure that his son Ollie, who was born in June 2010, had a hero he could relate to, Reece got to work.
Working with an illustrator named Kelly Williams, Reece devised a new superhero called Metaphase. Intended just for Reece’s family and friends, they produced a ten-page graphic novel about a father and his son, who has Down Syndrome and ultimately becomes a superhero. Spelling out his motivations to CBS, Reece said, "I wanted my son to think that he, too, could dream just as big as I dreamed when I was little kid."
However, the Metaphase story ended up reaching a far larger audience that just Reece’s nearest and dearest. After Reece showed the short graphic novel to his friends, Alterna Comics approached him about writing a full book. To fund the project, a Kickstarter was launched, which ultimately surpassed its goals and earned over $9,500 of funding. Reece then completed a 70-page book and 1,500 copies were printed. Almost all of them have been sold.
"He pointed at the book and the character then pointed to himself," Reece said of Ollie’s reaction to the Metaphase story. "He's finally realizing that it's for him." Reece has begun thinking of ideas for a sequel book, which will incorporate Ollie’s “big personality” into the Metaphase character. Reece is clearly a wonderful father, and he’s succeeded in creating something that broadens representation in the comic book world. You could argue that he’s the real hero.
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Source: CBS News