Wolverine & X23 artwork by Laura Kinney
Growing up in India our childhood is awash with Mythology; we have immortal Demons, flying Gods who can lift mountains, Gods wielding weapons of cosmic destruction…our Epics are amazing storytelling, featuring larger than life superheroes. They take the reader on a surprising visual journey through the eyes of the various characters, teaching things along the way. They are a revelation at every age, with different inferences derived as we grow older.
When I was a kid I used to come across the occasional Phantom and Mandrake comics from my Father’s collection. While those stories were entertaining (and apt for a mature reader) what really opened up the superhero universe for me was finding a haul of Superman, Batman and X-Men comics in my early teens. While a man flying was no novelty for me, a crime fighting vigilante dressed up as a bat definitely was! So were the X-Men, mutants with amazing powers but yet outcast by ‘regular’ people, ironically because of those same amazing powers they possessed. I was hooked. Long story short, I’m now what they call a ‘fanboy’. I love comics. I love everything about them. In fact my love of comics led me to start a comic book studio wherein our artists create an immersive visual universe for the reader.
When I became a father, story time with my little one was fun for me. A bonding experience, especially since I’ve dabbled with so many stories, I can make up them up on my own. I knew eventually I’ll be introducing my daughter to the world of superheroes….and why not? We have so much to learn from them.
Superheroes continue to evolve and have such a vast history; they are the perfect paradigm to learn various real world qualities, especially at a young age.
WHAT I WOULD LOVE TO TEACH MY DAUGHTER ABOUT SUPERHEROES
Every superhero has a purpose. In fact, even the villains do! Having a purpose gives clarity of thought, a vision on how to achieve that purpose. It also helps formulate a plan of action. It need not be something big and world changing every time…the idea of having a purpose percolates into smaller, daily actions.
Leadership and Teamwork
Superman may be able to handle a crisis alone, but he is much more formidable with the Justice League around. Superheroes teach kids group dynamics, how to work as part of the team, how to step up as a leader when the situation demands it. An Avengers story may also feature friction between some of the team members, teaching kids conflict and its resolution. Whatever they have read or seen subconsciously helps them on the basketball court, in the playground and in the classroom as well.
Expands their Universe
One of the reasons I love comics is the budget for special effects is unlimited. An artist can draw her vision of what an intergalactic police headquarters may look without having to worry about running out of money to get her vision across. Reading a Green Lantern story is a visual treat, taking the reader on a planetary journey and thereby expanding his mind’s eye. So often I’ve seen kids drawing amazing things after being exposed to some of the comics and movies based on them.
It is OK to be Different
A very important message which superhero stories convey – everyone is unique and that is okay. In fact, that is wonderful! Take the X-Men. Every single member is unique, having a unique set of powers and a unique set of problems. Today kids are marginalized for the smallest of things. Childhood can be scary and children can be mean. Especially when they gang up together. But if Rogue can deal with not being able to touch another person without harming them, I can deal with being a little different from the crowd, right?
Superheroes help others. Period. I cannot emphasize this enough. The best way to do good is to be good. Now we may not have powers that can stop a falling building but we can definitely share our umbrella with a boy from school who you don’t really know. Compassion. Empathy. Very powerful qualities when inculcated at a young age, creates better adults. Superheroes don’t need to wear capes. They are defined by their actions. It could be you or me. Actually, it HAS to be you and me.
There will be Testing Times
Every journey of a hero is peppered with tests. It is a rite of passage. Whether it is Lord Ram’s banishment from Ayodhya, the trials of Hercules or Bruce Wayne losing his parents as a child, every journey has tests. It is how the hero acts during those testing times is what really defines them. Tough times come for everyone and kids need to know that they have affected even the best of people. Superhero stories teach kids to have faith and conviction to work their way out of the testing times. Be strong.
Sounds so simple, right? It’s vital to make time for fun. Life is serious no doubt but it’s no good without some fun. Kids are bogged down with school, homework, peer pressure, parent pressure, extra-curricular classes and believe it or not, keeping up appearances at even their age. Often there is no time for fun. Even Wonder Woman, an Amazon Princess driven by her ideals, righteousness and military training lets her hair down once in a while. Fun for her may be competing with the Flash in a footrace or a game of chess with Batman. But it’s fun. For every Cyclops, it’s crucial to have a Deadpool.
This list could go on for quite a while but these are some of the main reasons why I share superhero stories with my daughter. The learning superhero stories provide is nothing new. The wisdom has been told through the Vedas, Scriptures and several other sacred writings and books. They have never been, however, packaged so dynamically to appeal to such a wide demographic, overcoming all barriers. And that is their best super power!
Vishvesh is someone who wears many diverse hats; business consultant, gamer, father, gym rat, comic fan boy, history geek, music enthusiast, spiritual journeyman…the list is quite long. He believes in wearing multiple of these hats at once to get the best out of the time he has on hand.
A quick background, Vishvesh finished his academics in Pune and since working for Gotham Entertainment Group in Bangalore way back in 2005, he’s been working in the entertainment industry. He has been a Business Consultant for clients in the publishing and entertainment industry covering branding, marketing and licensing aspects before forming his my own studio called Division 91 in Mumbai specializing in content, creative and illustration based services. His studio partnered with industry leaders such as Yash Raj Films, Red Chillies, Eros, Disney, Fox, Amar Chitra Katha, Network 18, Mahindra etc for several projects, marketing campaigns and licensing opportunities. He has since moved the studio to Pune under a new name, IdeaScope, and added creative consultation for clients across various industry verticals.
‘If you see the Buddha in the lane, pass him the ball’ is one of his favorite quotes and philosophies. In his spare time you can find him either on the basketball court playing a pickup game, with his daughter on the kids playground or engrossed in a book sipping a freshly brewed coffee. He blogs about variety of things at http://vishveshd.blogspot.com/?view=magazineand illustrates his adventures with his daughter at http://adventuresnewdad.blogspot.com/2017/07/episode-sixty-one.html