Front Matter

The Adventures of ASPIE MOUSE is a blog being developed into a Graphic Novel using “comic book” panels. Its goal is to help “kids” on the Autism Spectrum see their “unexpected” behaviors rewarded, at least most of the time (vs. always challenged & criticized). “Kids” are loosely defined: while the target age is likely 10-15 — as for most graphic novels of this type — older teens and young adults have responded well to the blog. That’s not surprising, since the emotional age of those on the Autism Spectrum is generally 2/3 or 3/4 their chronological age

The ten chapters (Pre-A through I) are designed to be read in alphabetical order and are sequential (each builds on the prior chapter) — EXCEPT:

(1) Chapter A is meant to be read first as a simple warm-up cat-mouse chase chapter. In terms of how Aspie Mouse “got there” (why he needs a new home), the chapter really fits between Chapters G and I. To solve this paradox, the material from Chapter A is being repeated in Chapter H. However, Chapter H adds a whole new subplot, doubling its length.

(2) Chapter Pre-A is really a preface, explaining the philosophy and origins of this work. It’s primarily for parents and teachers, but “kids” who like graphic novels — on and off the Autism Spectrum — may find it useful for learning about Autism. Originally planned as Chapter A — a preface disguised as “Chapter One” — it was recently moved to Pre-A when the original Ch. H (J) was split into a first chapter (new A) and as per (1) above, an expanded Ch. H.

(3) In the blog, the latest chapter posted or substantially revised is placed first, then Front Matter, then Pre-A (preface), and then the other nine chapters in sequence. Ignore “Posted” dates — they’re manipulated to keep the Chapters in their intended order.

Chapters A through I have “Notes.” If a chapter is complete, the notes focus on concerns that might arise for readers, along with any back story about certain situations, names, comments, etc. For incomplete chapters, the notes primarily fill in the plot for what’s not yet posted. Chapters A – I also have “Questions for Discussion/ Reflection” — designed for use by teachers and parents with their “kids” (loosely defined). In saying “for reflection,” these questions are also appropriate for kids with Autism to ask themselves, with or without encouragement. While Notes & Questions are at the end of Chapters in this blog, they’re intended to be put in an appendix in the published print and online versions, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story line from chapter to chapter — nor look too much like a textbook!

Currently, the most complete “sample” chapter in all respects (including having a full set of Questions) is Chapter D, “X is for Exterminator.” Chapters A, B, C & H are also complete, though: most pages in B & C need upgrading, re-sizing, panel separations & expansion; A & H are newly written (actually re-written, formerly Chapter J), thus likely to need some editing/ tweaking.

For a more in-depth explanation of the author’s intent in writing The Adventures of ASPIE MOUSE, read past the Table of Contents below; the notes after Chapter A; and check out the section of the blog entitled “About Aspie Mouse Blog.”

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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THE “CHAPTERS” IN THE ASPIE MOUSE BLOG ( & Graphic Novel)

i-iii         Front Matter: Title Page; Dedication & Copyright Page; Table of Contents

12 pp.  Chapter Pre-A: Introducing Aspie Mouse (Preface – Major Revision 4/2020, update Oct.)

12 pp. Chapter A: A New House and a New Cat (Old H [ex-J] Posted revised 10.25.20; also see Ch. H)

12+ pp.   Chapter B: Leaving the Nest for “MIT” (Posted 4/2019; First 4 pages revised 8/20))

24+ pp.   Chapter C: There Goes the Smartest Cat That Ever Lived (Posted fully 10/2019)

20+ pp.   Chapter D: X is for Exterminator (Posted 4th & final version (pre-pub) 10.7.20)

18 est. Chapter E: Therapy Dog Needs Therapy (First three pages posted 7.20.20, 4th page 9.14.20)

16 est.    Chapter F: Klumsy Kat, But Only When Anxious (1st 2 pages posted 8.1.20)

26 est.   Chapter G: Parade of Visitors: Feline, Canine, Rodentine & Humine (1st p. posted 7.28.20)

24 pp. Chapter H: New House, New Cat, New “Nay”bors (Posted 1/19 (J), 1st 22 rvsd pp, 10.20.20 )

30 est. Chapter I: At the Zoo During a Pandemic (First 6 pages posted 5.18.20; Last page 10.23.20)

Appendix: Chapter Notes & Questions for Thought/ Discussion – Ch.’s A-I (partially done for most chapters (shows with Chapters in blog), Ch. D complete; Chapters A & H are pretty complete.

All ten (ex-9) chapters of “The Adventures of Aspie Mouse” have been posted in some form. Chapters Pre-A, A, B, C, D & H are complete. The other four chapters (E, F, G, I) are plotted, with anywhere from 1-7 early pages posted. With the posting of the final (4th) version of Chapter D, and the completion of Chapters A & H (revised from original Ch. J), the manuscript is now being submitted for commercial publication. As noted elsewhere in this blog, once the graphic novel is published, completed chapters will be removed from this blog, except for Ch. Pre-A & the first page or pages for the other nine chapters. Comments remain welcome! Once all ten chapters are complete, new chapters for a projected sequel will be added as developed, and posted here in full until they too get published.

Any artist (especially one on the Autism Spectrum) who thinks s/he can improve upon the artwork in this blog is invited to contact the author (chris@aspiemouse.com) ASAP about submitting samples, potential compensation, etc.

Most of Ch’s B, C and pre-makeover H (J) were posted before the author realized he’d sized them to shrink down to fit a “standard” 6 x 9″ trim size vs. today’s graphic novel standard trim size of 5-1/2″ x 8″. All materials posted since 10/19 are sized correctly.

Additional post-10/19 upgrades: putting space between panels; making boxes larger & words more readable when shrunk down (still need a bit more consistency); adding new material and spreading out existing scenes to increase the art to word ratio. As a result: Ch. Pre-A was 4 pages, it’s now 12; Ch. D has grown from 8 to 24 pp. in 4 stages.  Similarly, Ch’s. B & H (ex-J) are also expected to grow, from 10-12 pages each to 20 or so. New Ch’s E, F, G & I, while only partially started, will also collectively average 20 or so pages. Chapter I is anticipated to be the longest, perhaps 30 pages, while Ch’s Pre-A & A are each 12 pages in length. Ch’s. C (already expanded once) & G will likely exceed 25 pp; Ch. H is 24 pages (double Ch. A); while Ch’s E & F are expected to have fewer than 20 pp. each.

With a projected average chapter length of 20+ pages — plus Front Matter & Appendix — the author reduced a more ambitious number of chapters to ten, aiming for a typical print graphic novel of 200 pages plus — using standard 32-page signatures plus a half, 208 to 240 pages. The author has modified chapters as they’re developed to reflect what’s going on in society, especially the impact on those with Autism. So Chapter E (Therapy Dog …) touches on Black Lives Matter concerns, albeit modestly — along with the use of therapy animals. Race, social class and “difference” issues come up again in the newly expanded Chapter H, in which Aspie Mouse has uncomfortable interactions with four mouse brothers who don’t like or trust him. Chapter F (Klumsy Kat) features a character with “multiple disabilities (differences?).” Chapter I is set during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, though its focus is on Aspie Mouse’s interaction with zoo animals, building on Chapter H concerning the often awkward social situations with peers those with Autism often have.

Thanks for all the feedback I’ve received! Art upgrades, moving Chapter H (ex-J) material up to create a new Chapter A — these are among many suggestions made so far that have been implemented. I encourage you to keep giving them! It’s so easy for me — when I get excited by an idea — to lose perspective as to how it might “land” on others. So I’ve learned I NEED FEEDBACK (especially from Neurotypicals). Having learned not to take criticism personally, I WELCOME ALL FEEDBACK! I’m also learning to become a witness and not a judge (a Jungian concept that I’d heard for years before I “got” it). If I don’t implement your suggestion, it wasn’t ignored; nor did I reject you as a person! Goes back to when I was a textbook acquisitions editor: I observed that when I got my successful authors “peer reviews,” they were good at separating the wheat from the chaff. They knew what fit — or even improved upon — their vision, and passed on other well-intended reviewer suggestions. As 12-step programs suggest, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” My less successful authors either ignored reviewer suggestions or tried to appease reviewers by doing everything they suggested, leading to an unwieldy mess. My intention is to be a successful author — not so much for me, but for the benefit of my newly discovered/ adopted “tribe.”

October 25, 2020 Christopher R. Conty

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