Smart + Inspiring #1: Reverse Flâneur by M. Sabine Rear
At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing my favorite comics: ones that I discover at my local comic book store and this fabulous place called “the internet” 😉 The books I’m featuring are by super cool creators who aren’t just telling good stories but stories that are smart and inspiring too.
We’re starting things off with an amazing self-published comic called Reverse Flâneur (which, according to Google Translate means: Reverse Loafer and I hope that’s right!) It’s created by a woman named M. Sabine Rear. I’m obsessed with her work! She does incredible drawings.
The comic’s tagline is: “being blind, glamorous and alone in public”. It does just that…providing almost an intimate glamour of living life, the contrast between art + interactions, and what it’s like to present yourself to the world. It very much has a day-in-a-life feel. Because, in the comic, Sabine shares her own experience being blind, it has even more of an inspiring quality that makes me want to tell my own stories differently. Instead of glazing over how I truly experience my life, I want to share things as they are: like the anxious experiences I’ve dealt with since childhood. It fuels me to transform what a normal day looks like for me by not shying away from my reality.
How to represent
The truth is we all experience life differently. Not less than or better than. Just differently. And for that reason alone we have the power to put our unique voices behind these kinds of stories. To have a comic celebrate characters who experience life their own way is so important. Comics are perfect to portray all kinds of things…especially invisible disabilities like chronic pain, anxiety, and conditions that need more narratives to spread deeper understanding and compassion around, in addition to the physical. As the creator, we get to use our own truth to bring all kinds of situations and characters into life. The fact is: we have a choice of who to represent in our comics.
A lot of mainstream comics focus on someone who is “super” and previously weak (like Steve Rogers pre-Captain America) but then get supercharged with powers. But what I want to inspire, and what comics like Sabine’s does, is to explore another way… To have people show up as they are and be just as strong and super. Disabilities, difficulties, and struggles are their own strengths and sources of SO much good. It’s exactly the kind of representation that should be in the media that we consume more.
Will the real superheroes please stand up…
If you look at Daredevil, Marvel’s best-known way of “representing”, Matt Murdock is a blind man who becomes a superhero. He cannot see but all his other senses are heightened to infuse a whole new way of fighting crime. But what it’s missing most is relatability. It’s high-concept, not a high truth.
Awhile back, a woman named Marianne Williamson, who does talks about a metaphysical book called A Course in Miracles, presented a live-streamed lecture titled: “Wonder Woman and Superman in A Course in Miracles”. In it, she had a great metaphor of Clark Kent as he’s shown to us: as a meek newspaper reporter who then transforms into his secret identity: Superman. But the reality is: Clark Kent is really his secret identity. Superman and his “super-ness”…
…that’s his true nature. As it is for all of us.
Sure, we’re not flying around and being “Men/Women/People of Steel” but still we tend to think that we’re so far away from being super. We target our “weaknesses” as negatives instead of all that they make us beautifully capable of. Marianne’s message was that it actually is our real nature: to embrace ourselves having this super-ness. All we need to do is be as we are, each and every one of us, and embrace that.
This is the energy we can bring to the stories we tell in our comics. Don’t play small by hiding your true self. Play big. Embrace who you are. Infuse it in what you create. Celebrate the humanness in it, the reality, and the unification. Because we aren’t separate people. This is what brings people and perspectives together.
We’re so deserving of letting diversity shine–that’s what comics can portray so well. And it’s something that Reverse Flâneur has put into the world so well in such a beautiful way. Definitely check it out, it’s so stunning and inspiring.
Learn more about Sabine and her comics here.