My name is Rex Edhlund, writer, designer, publisher, and now the founder of the Superliterate Project and I believe that comic books, basically, saved my life.
Starting all the way back to a life-changing experience when I was 5 years old. A repeatedly misdiagnosed, and therefore untreated case of mononucleosis left me worn down to a near comatose existence. Then the disease concentrated it’s assault on the joints of my knees which swelled up to 4 times their normal size leaving me bed-ridden, racked with pain, and too weak to move. I was finally rushed to the hospital.
While there and near death (literally), a box of ratty, old, hand-me-down comics provided me with a way to escape the misery. The imagery told the story, but the gibberish in the word balloons escaped me. I knew I was missing out in a big way and begged anyone nearby to help me decipher these scribbles and understand them as statements. I needed to learn how to read as soon as possible. I had to know what was going on within those printed pages of heroism and terror.
I did. When I finally overcame the disease that struck me down and went through the horrible agony of physical therapy and learning how to walk again (I was pretty much crippled), I entered 1st grade already a reader. This advantage has lasted my entire life. I also entered school with the knowledge that good guys overcome obstacles and nothing can keep them from being their heroic self.
It’s good that this belief system came to me early. Shortly after overcoming this disease, I was thrown into a very, very difficult childhood with abuse from a series of step-fathers so horrific I am advised to not even get into here. This tumultuous time had us constantly on the move, always the new kid in school, always unsteady. But I always felt determined to carry on, just like the soldiers, explorers, and heroes hanging from cliffs would do. I was inspired to do so. This is another of the things that comic books gave me, the belief that obstacles CAN be overcome and they will make you stronger.
I wish every child could benefit from this strong ethos and method of gaining reading and life skills- one that has such an allure and exciting reward. It is a rare place where the stories provide such a wealth of examples of how to do the right thing. I feel my comic book experiences as a youth instilled in me, such a deep sense of positive values that I could never bear to be the villain in a real-world story. I’m one of the good guys. One of the ones that overcame adversity and strive to always do the best they can, in a way that not only benefits my own world but society too.
it’s a social investment
This is an opportunity for a great social investment. The only real way to fix the homeless problem is to stop creating homeless people. We can stem the number of criminals we have to imprison each year by preventing people from becoming criminals. Life is a series of decisions and decisions are based on knowledge and mindset. SuperLiterate is an opportunity to guide, nurture, and train these young thinkers into a better life.
The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record of $75,560 for EACH INMATE in the next year. At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard. That per-inmate cost is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.
If we instill the positive mindset and willingness to work hard at writing one’s own heroic journey and it keeps them out of trouble, out of jail, well just there it is saving society the financial burden of $75,000. Our entire annual budget won’t even be close to that. Just ONE CHILD saves Los Angeles and California $75,000! That in itself is worth the effort. This, of course, pales in comparison to the pain and suffering that will be spared by changing a child’s life. The emotional cost of the victims and the next generation that may get caught up in the cycle. That is what this is really about. Creating a better world with better people and ending destructive cycles. Starting this project in the entertainment capital of the world that also has the 2nd largest number of homeless people in America is almost ironic. But this is where it starts. And hopefully, it will grow into other cities that can use this project to help create the new clever, caring, intelligent heroes.
Associated Press (2017, June 4) At $75,560, Housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard, The Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-prison-costs-20170604-htmlstory.html
Alliance for Childrens Rights Website (2018) Facts and Stats
28,000 children are currently in foster care in Los Angeles County.
Sponsors, donations, collaborators, and volunteers in the LA area. Assemble!