by David A. Rodriguez and Sarah Ellerton
“Before we ever walked the sun-steepled cathedrals of the Lost Woods… we were bound in darkness. Before we ever tasted the crystalline waters of the Redcloaked Springs… we fed the machines of our masters. Before we swore our oaths in the hallowed chambers of Lillienthal… we surrendered our dignity in the sands.”
This is the world of Gossamyr. This is the fantasy realm that you can access with the right mathematical equation… if you’re smart enough. If you’re fast enough. And if the ones who desperately want to return don’t find you first.
Today. The States. The Program has been set up for prodigies. Only the best of the best get in. They have ninety minutes to explore a theorem. They don’t have to prove it; they only have to explore it. And Denny… he’s young. He’s on the Autistic Spectrum. But he has an ability. If he’s presented with a problem, he will solve it. It’s impossible for him to get it wrong.
And in forty-five seconds, he comes close to solving it. And then… he stops. Because he sees what the equation really is. He knows what will happen if he solves it.
But then he’s faced with a dilemma: He can continue to cause his older sister, his caretaker, hell because of his problems. Or he can solve the equation and be accepted into the Program… and unleash a terrible evil.
David A. Rodriguez and Sarah Ellerton have created something fantastic in this story. I’ve worked with autistic children before, and they hit all the right buttons to grab my attention. Denny reads as an authentic child on the spectrum. He doesn’t feel stereotyped. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the creators has an autistic relative. The interplay between Denny and Jenna, his sister, ring incredibly true. The constant struggle of the caretaker between exhaustion and love conveys everything you need to know about these characters. In just a few pages, you know Jenna and Denny.
The art is stunning. In many ways, it reminds me of Pixar’s The Incredibles or Up. It’s semi-realistic but still stylized. This choice allows a sort of caricature for minor characters that allow more to be said in a single image than pages of dialogue. The colors are lush.
This comic is just chapter one in a longer story, but if you’re a fan of either Pixar films or good fantasy, I highly recommend this. There aren’t enough unique heroes out there; Denny presents a likable protagonist, the type of whom I’ve never read in fantasy. (Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark is a great science fiction novel featuring an autistic protagonist if you’d like to pursue another one-of-a-kind story.)
Seriously. Go find this and enjoy.