Chip Reece loves comic books.
When his son, Ollie, was born, he couldn’t wait to introduce him to superheroes — larger-than-life characters to identify with and look up to. One roadblock existed: Reece couldn’t find a comic that featured a character with Down syndrome, the genetic condition doctors diagnosed Ollie with shortly before he was born. This didn’t seem fair.
“He deserves to have characters who are just like him, doing ‘super’ things,” Reece, 33 and living in Wichita, Kansas, told The Mighty in an email. “He should be able to dream just as big as anyone else, believe that anything is possible.”
For almost a decade, Reece has worked as a social worker, while writing comic book reviews for StashMyComics.com. But as a father of a child with special needs, he decided it was time to transform his love for reading comics into a love for creating them — specifically for his son. So he began writing “Metaphase,” a graphic novel, illustrated by Kelly Williams, that features Ollie, a superhero with Down syndrome.
In “Metaphase,” Ollie’s superhero father at first only sees his son’s limitations. He tries to hold him back, at fear he’ll get hurt. So Ollie works to prove him wrong.
“The biggest thing Ollie faces are the limits that are assumed of him,” Reece explained to Comicocity.com in January. He wants the character to inspire kids like his now 4-year-old son. But he also wants to reach an audience of people (and parents) who may only see Down syndrome as a disability.
“I hope that readers will open their minds to the possibility that individuals with Down syndrome have,” he told The Mighty, “instead of defining them by their limits.”
To parents of kids newly diagnosed, he offers this:
“You will be blessed. They will be talented. He will inspire you. She will surprise you. They will play sports, act, sing, graduate high school, go to college, live on their own, work an more. Also, you will fall in love with them.”