Have you ever seen a Marvel movie? Do you watch action blockbusters just to see a good hero story? On Tuesday, Nov. 20, a new superhero is coming to Northwestern’s campus through the Deep Song Reading series. Hosted by the English Department, the reading, arranged by English professor Sam Martin, will be led by NW alumn, Chip Reece, author of “Metaphase.”
Deep Song Readings are a series of reading events that take place on campus each semester. The department usually brings in one reader from either on or off campus to read and talk about their creative work. Faculty members who are working on manuscripts have participated, as well as alumni and a few critically-acclaimed writers like Scott Cairns, the American poet.
In the past, NW has also brought in poets, short story writers, novelists, non-fiction writers and people that work in multiple genres, but this year is the first year to have a graphic novelist introduced.
Reece created the very first superhero with Down Syndrome for his son Ollie, who also has Down Syndrome. Jesse Carbert of Book Riot says in her article about the book, “the public has begun to recognize ‘Metaphase’s importance, not only to the medium, but to disability lit overall.”
“Metaphase” is about a boy whose father has superpowers. The son thinks he’ll be just like his dad someday, but his father tells him that because of his weak heart and Down Syndrome, he probably won’t have superpowers.
“There’s a heartbreaking moment when the father is trying to gently tell him that you probably won’t be like me, you won’t have superpowers,” Martin said. “And you can see in the artwork how crushing that is for the kid in the story and he’s like, ‘Is it because I’m different, because I have Down Syndrome?’” So, the boy embarks on a quest to gain superpowers, but he has to deal with the consequences as well.
“It’s one of those pieces that actually broadens the imagination,” Martin says.
Reece graduated from NW with a social work degree. However, when he saw that there were not many superheroes with disabilities and none with Down Syndrome, he wanted to give his son someone he could relate to, and created “Metaphase.”
Once Martin heard about him through the Public Relations department, he ordered and read the book and immediately messaged Reece to ask if he would visit campus and talk about his book. The comic has also gained national attention as Reece has been interviewed by both NBC and CBS news.
Deep Song Readings are ultimately a time of learning and exploration. Students who attend have the opportunity to hear from published authors and to ask them questions. Reece will talk about the process he went through to make “Metaphase” and may talk about the sequel he is currently working on.
“This story might not have billions of dollars of Hollywood special effects exploding behind it, but it has a much deeper humanity, and I think a more original story than anything you’ll find in the blockbuster theaters,” Marin said. “It’s a fun story, it has heart, and it’s a story that gives hope.”
The Deep Song Reading will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20 in the Fireside Room.