We’ve talked a bit about why we chose a steampunk universe as the setting for Face Value Comics. People with an ASD diagnosis are often very comfortable with technology and complex detail. Another important element of the steampunk setting is that it helps us build comic awareness, which is at the heart of what we do at Face Value Comics.
By placing our characters in a world that’s just a bit off kilter, even for our neurotypical readers, we’re able to help them better understand what it’s like to navigate the neurotypical world with an ASD diagnosis. For our autistic readers, we can use the steampunk world to engage their attention while using Paul Ekman’s theory of expression to help them better read others’ facial emotions. We’re building comic awareness and expanding our readers’ empathy while entertaining them at the same time.
We see the steampunk setting of our comics as one of the best tools we have for building comic awareness. No reader is going to know exactly what to expect there. That’s part of the fun of our series. While Michael and his friends struggle to find their place in their world and in their school, our readers struggle just a little bit along with them, working to understand a setting that is at once like and unlike their normal world. The great thing about comics is that they show their heroes triumphing in the end. This gives both neurotypical people and those with an ASD diagnosis hope that their own struggles are worth going through and will come to a positive end.
Ekman, P. (2011). Emotion Review, 3(4), 354-370.