Like most of us, I’ve always believed in heroes. I had a lot of them growing up. They were regal forces of nature with out-of-this-world origin stories and exceptionally suave catchphrases that usually came with an accent. As much as I admired them, something was missing. I felt it nearly impossible to go on their journey. I could only watch from afar with limited understanding because I knew in my heart they could never truly represent me. You see, the monomyth is meant to represent someone ordinary becoming extraordinary thanks to an adventure of sorts, but what happens when you are born outside the circle? What happens when you exist not as ordinary, not as extraordinary but traped in the limbo known as… different. These are the questions you ask yourself when you grow up with a disability hoping to find heroes of your own.
I soon realized the only way to find my kind of hero was to tell my kind of story. In order to do that, I had to overcome the biggest obstacle that my minority has faced since the 19th century: the obstacle of inspiration.
The obstacle of inspiration comes along when an able bodied person gives credit to someone with a disability for simply existing within their means. It may seem like a compliment on the surface, but in reality it’s a reflection of society’s inability to handle something so obviously outside their comfort zone and ultimately objectifies the very group the compliment is meant for. You see, equating “inspiration” with a disability automatically presents an underlying message that is exceptionally harmful to our culture. It labels a disability as “bad” when it’s neither bad nor good. It is simply a condition. Inspiration under the wrong circumstances also says that persons with disabilities exist for the sake of able-bodied individuals to feel good about themselves. This is also a lie. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution. Those of us that live this reality, must become the storytellers.
Thanks to Sarah Love and the rest of the team over at Rune Comics, this story came to life in the form of Anomaly 23. It’s a graphic novel series for young adults warning each of us that wishes granted with the best of intentions can have serious consequences. More importantly, it gives certain characters with medical conditions the breathing room they deserve. It’s not about attention, but rather, misdirection. People with conditions will be seen finding their way back inside the circle of the hero’s journey and will therefore standout not as disabled, or inspiring, but as people among family.
The truth is we are all born anomalies. Some of us spend our whole lives wondering what that means, others find the truth way too late. Either way, the characters of Anomaly 23 will prove that heroism is not a birthright but rather something that must be earned regardless of circumstance. Only when we are first seen as profoundly human can we finally reach our potential and become the heroes that our audience needs and deserves.
Enjoy the preview…
by Chris Hendrick