Front Matter

The Adventures of ASPIE MOUSE is a blog being developed into a Graphic Novel in “comic book” form. Its goal is to help “kids” on the Autism Spectrum see their “unexpected” behaviors rewarded (vs. always challenged & criticized). “Kids” are loosely defined: the target age is likely 10-15 — as for most graphic novels — yet older teens and young adults have responded well to the blog. That’s not surprising, since those on the Autism Spectrum are generally 1/4 to 1/3 younger emotionally than their chronological age.

The ten chapters (A-I) are designed to be read in alphabetical order (not counting Front Matter), and are sequential (each builds on the prior chapter — EXCEPT:

(1) Chapter A is meant to be read first, but the events actually occur after Chapter G and before Chapter I, and thus it’s repeated as Chapter H, but with a lot of added material in that latter chapter;

(2) Chapter Pre-A is really a preface, to explain the philosophy behind this work; while aimed more at parents and teachers, “kids” on the Spectrum who like graphic novels may find value in it.

(3) In the blog, the latest chapter posted or substantially revised is placed first, then Pre-A (preface) and then the other nine chapters in sequence.

Chapters A through I have “Notes” (if the chapter is complete, the notes focus on possible questions that might arise; for incomplete chapters, notes primarily fill in the plot for what’s not yet posted) and “Questions for Discussion/ Reflection” — again more for teachers and parents, though “for reflection” means kids with Autism might choose on their own to try these questions. While the Notes & Questions are at the end of Chapters in this blog, they’re intended to be put in an appendix in the published print version, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story line from chapter to chapter — nor to look too much like a textbook!

Currently, the most complete “sample” chapter in all respects (includes a full set of Questions) is Chapter D, “X is for Exterminator.” However, Chapters A, B, C & H are also complete, though B & C in particular are likely to need some upgraded & expanded.

For a more in-depth explanation of the author’s intent in writing The Adventures of ASPIE MOUSE, see 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)

12+ pp. Chapter A: A New House and a New Cat (Old Chapter H [ex-J] shorter version 10/20)

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 10/2019)

20+ pp.   Chapter D: X is for Exterminator (Posted 3rd version 7.9.20, final pre-pub. early Oct.)

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)

18+ pp. Chapter H: New House, New Cat, New “Nay”bors (Posted 1/19 as Ch. J, now A; Expanding!)

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

Appendix: Chapter Notes & Questions for Thought/ Discussion – Ch.’s B-I (partially done for most chapters; intended for back of graphic novel, but in blog at end of each chapter), Ch. D done

All ten (ex-9) chapters of “The Adventures of Aspie Mouse” have been posted in some form (though Ch. A and H has the same material posted as of 9/29/2020; they will be differentiated in the next revision). The last steps prior to submitting this material to a literary agent are a final polishing of Chapter D and that makeover of Chapter H into two chapters, A & H (A’s material is repeated and added to in Chapter H). As is 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 and possibly a few more for the other nine chapters. Comments remain welcomed, and new chapters for a projected sequel will be added as developed as they’ve been for these first 10 chapters.

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 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 readable when shrunk down (could still be more consistent chapter-to-chapter, sometimes even within chapters); 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, and may finally change again; Ch. D grew from 8 to 20 pp. in 3 stages (and will likely grow an additional 2-4 pages in its final form).  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 collectively average 20 or so pages. Chapter I is anticipated to be the longest, perhaps 30 pages; Ch’s C (already expanded once) & G will also likely exceed 25 pp., while Ch’s E, F & H may each end up with fewer than 20 pp.

Realizing the projected average chapter length would now be 20+ pages plus Appendix, the author reduced a more ambitious original number of chapters to ten, to result in a typical print graphic novel of 200 pages plus — or using standard 32-page signatures (plus a half), 208 to 240 pages. The author continues to modify chapters as they’re developed to reflect what’s going on in society, but especially how it affects those with Autism. Chapter E (Therapy Dog …) touches on Black Lives Matter concerns, albeit modestly, with race and social class issues coming up again in Chapter H. Chapter E also addresses the use of therapy animals. Chapter F (Klumsy Kat) features a character with “multiple disabilities (differences?).” Chapter I (At the Zoo …) is set during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, though its focus is Aspie Mouse’s interaction with zoo animals, reflecting human social situations that are often faced by those on the Autism Spectrum.

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 suggestions made that were implemented. I encourage to keep giving them! It’s so easy for me — when I get excited by an idea — to lose perspective as to how it could “land” on others. So I’ve learned I NEED FEEDBACK (especially from neuro-typicals). 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, I didn’t ignore it; 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. Or 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.

September 29, 2020 Christopher R. Conty

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