Chapter C is complete. However, it needs to be re-sized and re-paneled (except for the last four pages) to match the rest of the graphic novel’s chapters.
Basic plot: A family of four inherits a cat from a neighbor (who also has Autism) moving to assisted living. That cat rids the house of mice, but does so in nasty ways. Aspie Mouse, fresh from “MIT,” moves in — liking that it has a cat and no other mice, disregarding another mouse’s concerns about AM’s safety. Once in, Aspie Mouse decides to play with the cat, which is a greater challenge than any cat he’s ever met. Aspie Mouse almost gets caught & killed, but Bobby (the boy in the family) rescues him. The cat makes one more try to get AM before he’s sent away to a strange circus. Bobby and Aspie Mouse figure out they can read each others’ minds.
THIS CHAPTER NEEDS READER INPUT MORE THAN ANY OTHER! That’s because it’s the only chapter where an animal kills other animals — and does so (at present) in nasty, torturing ways. It’s also the only chapter where Aspie Mouse needs to be rescued — albeit by another character with Autism. Both of these may cause problems for teachers, parents and maybe sensitive kids with Autism, especially the first concern. True, it’s a cat — not a mouse — that does the killing — and cats do kill a lot of small animals (A billion birds a year in the U.S.? Or is it several billion? Plus mice, moles, chipmunks, etc.). But this cat does it in ways that makes the cat out to be a sociopath. Is it appropriate for those with Autism to read this? At what age(s)? Is there a way to do so “off stage” instead? Or do a milder slightly sanitized version period? Or do one of the first two mentioned, but also post the more graphic version in the back of the book? Or keep it as is? Or keep it as is, with the warning currently there kept, so those who are easily bothered by this material can skip over it and still know what’s going on as the chapter continues?
- 2/1/2020: Added context block to p.1 per feedback. Ch. C is written larger, less dense, more open (will be more pages). Page 1 and 21-24 have been resized to fit graphic novel format of 5-1/2 x 8.” Next revision will resize rest of chapter, open it up more (especially toward the end), have space between panels on the same page, and attempt more uniformity in lettering size. Chapter D was revised to fit this new approach. Chapters B & the rest of C need this upgrade, but until Chapters E, F, G & I are completed in first draft, those upgrades will have to wait. Comments welcomed!
Notes for Chapter C, “There Goes the Smartest Cat That Ever Lived“
Chapter C is the fourth chapter of ten — counting Pre-A as a chapter. However, it’s the first chapter to introduce human characters. Humans will be part of every other chapter, with roles varying from central (Ch’s D & E), to secondary but important (Ch’s F, G & H and this Ch. C) to trivial (Ch. I).
The humans in this chapter are comprised of a family of four and an elderly man moving to assisted living. One notable point: two of the five humans have some form of Autism — the elderly man (Fumio Nakamura) and the family boy (Bobby Coppola). Their Autism — especially Bobby’s — plays a central role in the ongoing development of this graphic novel, as he and his autism continue to play significant roles in five chapters (C-G).
With the introduction of human characters in this graphic novel comes the issue of naming them. The author’s thought long and hard about naming each human character. On the one hand, the author rejects the usual practice of using “safe” Anglo-Saxon names, as has often been done in television, movies and books — in favor of reflecting the diversity he knows today, and from growing up in an ethnically diverse Bronx, where only Black people had “WASP” names. On the other hand, using ethnic names invites stereotyping, and — as the author himself experienced — ridicule (being called “Christopher Columbus” in early grades got uglier later, when kids “mispronounced” the O in Conty — made worse when he didn’t know why until senior year of high school)!
Therefore, the author know he’s treading a fine line here, as he also resists “reverse stereotyping,” despite knowing an Asian violinist named Ian Swenson, and a woman whose brother was Brian Michael Flannery at his Bar Mitzvah. So let me offer some background on the names chosen for Chapter C’s humans. Fumio Nakamura: first name honors a 5th grade classmate; last name was inspired by a newspaper deliverer. The Coppola family is more generic, given the author has many friends of Italian origin, including his own 1/4 Italian heritage — with the “I” in Conti changed to a “Y” by my Irish grandmother to disguise its origin. And that said, anyone offended by my use of a name, please let me know. I don’t mean offense, and will consider changing names in subsequent editions/ versions.
As noted above, Chapter C is the most violent/ possibly disturbing chapter, at least as currently presented. Comments on whether or not and/ or how to tone down the scenes of mice being slaughtered by the diabolical cat “Brilli” are of course welcomed.
Questions for Thought/ Discussion: Ch. C, “There Goes the Smartest Cat That Ever Lived”