Ch. I: At the Zoo During a Pandemic (1st 6 pp. and last page)

Now posted: the first 6 pages — and very last page (currently unnumbered as 30-something) — of a chapter during the beginning of the (a) pandemic. Its main focus is on Aspie Mouse’s interaction with a variety of zoo animals. An outline for the rest of this chapter follows the first 6 pages. Planned as the last chapter of the Graphic Novel, it ends with revelations that tie up some loose ends from prior chapters and open up new possibilities. These new possibilities will be explored in a sequel to these first 10 chapters, The Further Adventures of Aspie Mouse. The sequel will start during the pandemic, and hopefully transition to after (!) as is appropriate to its story “arc.” In the blog, the new chapters will start as “J” (or a possible “Pre-J” and continue from there. Meanwhile, the first 10 chapters of this blog will remain complete on the blog until they’re published in print; even then, the first page or pages will remain on the blog.

Note: Aspie Mouse’s sister E-flat, who is a major character in this chapter, is introduced briefly in Ch. B; then brought back in Ch. G as the last of the “visitors” (not yet posted beyond its first page as of 10/2020) and makes a cameo in the now-completed Ch. H, prior to her central role in this chapter.

This Chapter I is expected to be one of the longest chapters if not the longest. In general, this chapter, like the one before it (old J, now H) has a panels with a lot more action, and a lot fewer words, than prior chapters such as C & D.

Synopsis of plan for rest of this chapter: Aspie Mouse gets his mask swiped and played with (then HE gets played with!) on Monkey Island. He tries each of the four “feline” buildings, first finding large cats (leopards, tigers and lions); then bobcats, then foxes, and finally smaller house-cat-like cats; he has his mask ripped off his face and is mask-less thereafter. He tries to find his sister, but gets lost & encounters: snakes (where he “rescues” other mice from being used as snake food from two zookeepers); camels, giraffes, elephants; birds of prey & coyotes/ wolves. He finally finds E-flat (his sister), and together they finish their visit with other land rodents that they can talk with (as he did with bats) — even helping Guinea pigs get coveted treats that grow naturally out of reach (dandelion greens & clover). Just as AM & his sister are about to split to go to their respective houses, E-flat mentions rumors that AM’s former family is looking for him — along with other news — which leaves him confused. Besides making readers look forward to reading the sequel, this ending of the graphic novel helps wrap up unresolved threads from earlier chapters.

Chapter I Notes:

A question for feedback from readers of this blog: Should/ or how should the author treat a potential timeline “problem” between chapters H and I? Here’s the issue: in Chapter H (and A), the time period is clearly late fall of the same year as the rest of this volume — a cold enough night to allow thin ice to develop on the pond in the park. But since Chapter I begins when a (the?) pandemic hits, that would have to be mid-to-late March at the earliest. Isn’t that too big a “gap” for Aspie Mouse to be living in his second “home” after Spike “escaped” if Spike is still not home. Isn’t this too long? How could the author fix this? Does he need to? (After all, the pandemic is not named, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be Covid-19, though the precautions and closures mirror those done for Covid-19). If you’re the care-giver of someone on the Autism Spectrum, check with your “Aspie” before you answer this question. That inconsistency may not bother you, but I assure you that if it bothers the author (which it does), it will bother a sizable slice of his fellow Aspie’s too!

Another question for feedback: Is there too much dialogue relative to art early in this chapter? Yes, page 2, though it makes sense to leave that page as is. but how about on page 5, when AM has a back and forth with the bats — should that be “spread out” a bit more?

Chapter I Questions for Thought or Discussion:

I ?: At the end of Ch. I, there’s an interaction between Aspie Mouse and his sister E-flat that addresses a key “complaint” those without Autism often have of those who are Autistic: that “Aspie’s” don’t have good manners, such as in greeting people and saying goodbye to them.

a. Does this seem like something E-flat should have brought up with Aspie Mouse as her brother? If you have Autism, is this something that has been brought up with you? Or have you brought it up with another or others?

b. E-flat says the reason AM doesn’t reply “appropriately” is that he is absorbed in his thoughts — already on to the next thing before finishing goodbye rituals. Does she have a point? Is that something you have observed in yourself or someone else with Autism?

c. If you agree this is something that separates you from others in some of your interpersonal relationships, what techniques might you use to maintain your connection better?

d. What do you think of AM’s “confusion” in the very last panel — that E-flat is criticizing his lack of showing manners due to self-absorbed thoughts when they are departing, yet she was so pre-occupied by what she was doing that day that she “forgot” to give him crucial information that could completely change his life from that point on?

I ??: The “rumors” E-flat reveals to AM on the last page create new possibilities for him if true.

a. What are the reasons AM changed where he lived that may no longer be valid, given what’s happened at his new home (per Chapter H)?

b. What are the reasons AM changed where he lived that may no longer be valid, given what E-flat told him?

c. What are reasons, if any, for AM to remain in his new home despite what’s happened and what’s rumored to have happened?

d. What do you think Aspie Mouse will do based on E-flat’s new information?

e. (When) have you made a decision that seemed to be a good one, but then information you got later made you question that decision? Were you able to “go back”?

f. Do you find making decisions easy, a bit of a challenge, or quite difficult? Once you make a decision, do you let things go as to how they turn out or do you second-guess yourself a lot?

g. Are you better at making decisions or solving problems? Do you think other people with Autism are likely to answer that question in a similar way or would they vary like everyone else?

One comment

  1. Woohoo! Aspie Mouse is such a well-defined character. It’s like you know him or something. 😀
    Love the illustration on the bottom of I4.


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