The Adventures of Future Hearing Man – Scene #2

Scene #2 – The Adventures of Future Hearing Man!

Jenna OakleyAfter writing the origin story for Future Hearing Man, guest artist, Jenna Oakley, needed to show the growth of her character as he came to understand the possibilities and limitations of his new “future hearing” powers. (Notice Jenna casted her hero as a university student — a life she knows well as a graduate of fine arts — so she could have the best chance of adding age-relevant, real life social interactions in her comic. Children and youth should be encouraged to “write what the know” and choose a character of similar age to themselves.) To help her with her hero’s growing pains Jenna followed the Life Outside the Box comic slam worksheet: Life Outside the Box Comic Slam “Fail, fail, fail, save-the-day!” I gave this comic slam activity the nickname “Goldilocks challenge) because it involves the hero having to deal with too little, too much and just right amounts of super power — an exercise in learning super power self-regulation. his comic slam has four sections:

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Comic slam: “Fail, fail, fail …Save the day!” (click image to read)

A) Big idea: GRIT – firmness of mind or spirit; courage in the face of hardship or danger; able to deal with hard times

B) Method: It’s time to give your character some Super Power lessons. Learning to control super powers and those annoying unfortunate side effects can be challenging, dangerous — and sometimes embarrassing. You need to give your hero some grit! Step 1. Imagine a scene in which your beginner-hero first accidentally discovers her or his super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 2. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and she or he did not yet know how to turn on the super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 3. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and used too much super power. What happened? Who was affected?

C) Comic: Draw a comic strip in which your hero’s super power lessons get off to a rough start — first, there is “too little” power; second, “too much” power, and third — hurray! — your Hero’s super power is “just right” and helps to get the job done.

D) Rules 1) To build up your beginner- hero’s grit and strength, you must make your hero go through some failures before the ultimate win. 2) Your hero must go undergo a super power learning process. 3) Just like Goldilocks, your beginner-hero must learn about: “too little,” “too much,” and “just right” when controlling super powers and unfortunate side effects.

Jenna’s hero struggles to bring on his future hearing power. At first it does not come; then it is waaay too sensitive and he picks up too many sounds; then he wonders, “Maybe if I just relax …” After successfully learning to regulate his super power, Future Hearing Man decides he needs to dress like a super hero and shows us he also has super skills with a sewing machine.


Scene #2 – “Fail, Fail, fail … Save the day!” Future Hearing Man learns to control his power –too little, too much, and then just right.

Follow the adventures of Future Hearing Man in scene #1 and scene #3

The Adventures of Future Hearing Man – Scene #3

Scene #3 – The Adventures of Future Hearing Man.

Jenna OakleyWith the origin story and master of the super power complete, guest artist, Jenna Oakley, chose to explore the personal price well-meaning heroes pay when they drop everything to respond to a distress call. Jenna followed the Life Outside the Box comic slam worksheet: “Comic Slam – Great power, Great responsibility – Life Outside the Box.” Here is a transcript of this comic slam activity sheet:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 8.48.01 PMA) Big idea: OBLIGATION: something that you must do because it is morally right; something you do out of a sense of duty to others who depend on you.

B) Blurb: Heroes eventually learn, “with great power comes great responsibility.” But how is a hero to earn good grades at school, be on time for meals, go on dates, or put in enough hours at work if she or he is always being interrupted with “Help, Save me!” calls? How will your hero handle balancing a life of frequent super-rescues while still keeping up with her or his everyday duties and obligations? Can your hero handle being a “winner” in the public’s eye but risking looking like a “loser” in everyday life when important meetings, tests, jobs — and even sleep — get(s) frequently interrupted? Imagine the personal cost your hero pays to drop everything and run when villains attack, aliens invade, or kittens get stuck up in a tree? What happens to your hero’s friendships? What happens to your hero’s everyday, personal reputation?

C) Comic: Draw a comic strip in which your hero has to choose between dropping everything to run and “save the day” or showing up for an important personal meeting/event. How does your hero feel about having to choose?

D) Rules: Step 1: You must show your Hero really needs or wants to do something that is personally important. Step 2: You must show a clash — a fight — between your hero’s personal needs and the needs of others. Optional extra Step 3: Show your hero’s mixed feelings about “saving the day” AND being absent for a meeting, missing a deadline or not being there for a friend.

Jenna begins this scene with her hero studying hard for an exam. He hears a cry for help and without hesitation responds. Fortunately, he is prepared and has his hero costume with him. Unfortunately, he discovers his future hearing power was accurate but the context of the emergency was not what he was expecting. Future Hearing Man fulfills his obligation to serve those in need and he pays the price in lost marks for the missed test.FutureHearingMan-02Follow the adventures of Future Hearing Man in scene #1 and scene #3 …

“Life Outside the Box” – Why?

Toni Morrison, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University

Toni Morrison, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University

You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox. And although you don’t have complete control over the narrative (no author does, I can tell you), you could nevertheless create it.

— Toni Morrison, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University

Why I chose to name this program: “Life Outside the Box.”

We all inherit our family and cultural stories. We learn from our elders and peers what is expected of us. The creators of popular media also tell us stories that teach us our place and role in life. Specifically, we are surrounded in advertisements, TV shows, movies, video games, etc. that frequently repeat this one epic story: people who are “Hollywood attractive,” White, male, have access to wealth or social power are cast as the “hero” or main character who “wins” or “saves the day.” In contrast, people who come with bodies that don’t fit Hollywood standards, or who are people of colour, female, Aboriginal, poor, or have little access to social power are cast as the secondary — or missing — characters who “lose,” receive the consolation prize, or remain invisible.

I designed the Life Outside the Box program to empower youth to create their own characters and stories in which a person who looks just like them can live an interesting life, learn how to control personal strengths (possibly even super powers), struggle with character flaws, grow in wisdom, reap the rewards that come with hard work, and ultimately “save the day.” My purpose was to help youth — especially if they don’t fit the unrealistic Hollywood or dominant culture standards — to feel worthy and qualified to star as the hero in their own story. By using comic book story-telling and simple drawing techniques, youth — and adults, too — can use comic panel “boxes” to envision a new story, practice grit and resiliency and generate hope as they imagine a life outside the Hollywood or dominant culture “box.” This comic book creating program, therefore, invites youth to imagine, draw, write and then live a full “life outside the box.”

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Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones who do by paying them close attention and doing them justice. The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean. But then, I am a teller of stories and therefore an optimist, a believer in the ethical bend of the human heart, a believer in the mind’s disgust with fraud and its appetite for truth, a believer in the ferocity of beauty. So, from my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.

— Toni Morrison


  1. The above quotes were from Toni Morrison’s commencement speech at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts USA on MAY 28, 2004.
  2. The featured image and a transcript of Toni Morrison’s speech can be found here:
  3. The second image of Toni Morrison was retrieved from
  4. Toni Morrison’s speech can be heard here:
  5. A thoughtful discussion of Toni Morrison’s speech can be found here at “Brain Pickings”: