Telling a Story About a Quadriplegic Hero and His Newly Sentient Mechanical Wheelchair

Posted by December 16, 2017 Comment

Bryn Scott Hubbard writes,

I’m trying to tell a story about a quadriplegic hero and his newly sentient mechanical wheelchair and the Kickstarter is live right now!

I’m new to comics so most of my insights should probably be taken with a grain of salt. But one thing that I noticed about some of my favorite super hero stories is that the origin story was similar for a good amount of characters. Typically a good person has some sort of accident or encounter which gives them special abilities and from then on they have to wield those abilities using their internal good/evil compass as a guide to right and wrong. Which is great! And I love lots of those stories. But I wanted to see something different.

The idea blasted it’s way into my brain while I was in Philadelphia at a costume contest during the Wizard World Convention of 2015. I had seen about a dozen versions of Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, tons of Dr. Woo, all kinds of iterations from the Marvel universe and even a few marriage proposals on stage. People had props, and costumes with hydraulics and most times the cosplayers would do some kind of physical feat indicative of the character they were portraying: a backflip, the splits, aerial leap, etc.

It was an event packed full of excitement, and the enthusiasm was infectious. But the moment that really struck a cord with myself and the rest of the audience was when a man went up on stage dressed as Mermaid-Man from the popular cartoon show “SpongeBob Squarepants.” His costume wasn’t necessarily the best I’d seen there that day but as he wheeled up the ramp in his mechanical wheelchair to the stage, the audience lost their minds! They cheered and stood up and yelled words of encouragement. And I was swept along with them. It was inspiring to see a man with limited mobility competing with everyone else and giving it his all.

As I looked up at him I had the realization that I hadn’t seen too many physically disabled super heroes in the comics I had read. And after doing some research I found there was a large gap in that area. So I set out to make a comic about a handicapped super hero. But I hit a snag in my mind. I didn’t want this to be like every other comic that I’ve read where someone is handed a gift of immense power and finally are able to show the world what they are made of. I truly believe that people learn more from failures than from success. So as I was writing “The-Chair,” I thought about my friend from the costume contest. “Mermaid-Man” wasn’t given great power. He had a mechanical wheelchair that enabled him to do the things he wanted, and people appreciated him for his character, but without that chair he wouldn’t be able to leave his house.

And that’s when it hit. The paralyzed protagonist doesn’t get the powers, his chair does. He’s still the same great person he always was but his aid in life, the thing that makes movement possible, that should be what has the power. After going through a few drafts, I landed on a story that I think really highlights a more real-world representation of power dynamics. And, while “The-Chair” has a good amount of super hero tropes, tons of violence, and plenty of sexual situations, it’s at its heart: a story of will-power, not super-power.

And what about our hero’s good/evil compass? Well, it could use some work. The-Chair (Kevin’s mechanical wheelchair) is a newly sentient being, so he’s very naive and emotionally flawed: much like a teenager going through puberty with a god complex. With great power comes great amounts of wealth and sex. And that’s exactly why Kevin Stout, our quadriplegic sidekick/co-hero is thrust into place as our moral barometer. Kevin is going to be both literally and figuratively dragged through hell in this comic. He’s going to have the strength of his convictions tested and all the while training an inanimate object in the ways of human decency. So he’s got his work cut out for him.

But that’s what I set out to do. I wanted to make a comic whereby the lessons don’t come from a super power handed down from on high but rather at the expense of those powers. Sometime things in life get harder and harder before they can better and I want to make that apparent with this comic in order to give a good amount of rational hope to those who are going through tough times. Yes, things are difficult, and will probably get more difficult with time. But it’s not your unlimited amount of super powers that will get you through strife, it’s your character. That’s the true mark of a hero.

 

(Last Updated December 16, 2017 10:44 am )