Eximius is a graphic novel co-created with myself and Benlin Alexander, an amazing artist based out of New York. Our graphic novel is meant to be fun and exciting to read, but also give representation to people who have not been adequately represented in literature, the media, and life.
I have been advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more then 20 years now, my only regret is that it hasn’t been longer. It took having a daughter with Down syndrome to make me realize how much work needed to be done.
One of the fundamental premises of what our project is about comes from something my daughter likes to say to organizations she advocates for. Her saying is, “nothing for us without us”.
You cannot adequately represent people without their input, no matter how well intended you are, it is simply not possible. I cannot begin to understand what it is like to be a woman or to be black or to have an intellectual disability. However, I can listen, learn, and do my best to give them a voice. I only have the right to talk with someone not for them.
I also believe that everyone has value and to ask for input without compensation is wrong as well. So contributors to our project will be compensated.
At the heart of Eximius is my desire to have people be able to see themselves in our characters. People need to believe that there is hope, that they can be more, do more. I want everyone to be able to dream about someone amazing who they can identify with. I also want people to influence who that character is that they identify with. Every kid needs to be able to see them selves as that hero. In fact, everyone of us does regardless of age. No matter the color of your skin, your sex, your nationality there should be someone who is super that you can help change the world with when you become that superhero.
Eximius is not a resource page, it is going to be an artistic expression. There is plenty on the web for people to click on, this is going to be that escape to your day that gives you hope that maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all. We will be posting a blog, or a video, or art from our team and people in the disability community several times a month. There will be general topics that our contributors will be expressing themselves about, but how they do that will very greatly. Not everyone can express themselves through the written word. The hope is that as we grow and prosper the people who become involved with us will be successful as well.
For people who help us grow and become frequent contributors we hope to bring them in as a bigger part of our project which also, hopefully, will mean revenue for them as well. I also appreciate that given the constraints of financial independence for some of us living with the help of governmental assistance that pay can be tricky. So for those who want to contribute without direct compensation we have several non profits that we will support on their behalf.
Even though we can’t support everyone we are going to make this a creative space where everyone who wants to take part in our project will be able to do so in some form.