There were no superheroes with Down syndrome. So this dad invented one.
Chip Reece was always a huge fan of comic books. But when his son, Ollie, was born with Down syndrome, Reece wondered if that was something they'd ever be able to share.
Reece says Ollie, who was born in 2010, is a happy kid and that the two have a great relationship. "In the morning we have a routine where I get my breakfast and he sits right next to me until I'm finished," he writes in an email. "Given how busy he can be, that's a pretty sweet thing. I'd say we're buds."
Chip and Ollie. All images by Chip Reece (artwork by Kelly Williams) used with permission.
Like any dad, he worries about his son and his son's future. He wants Ollie to see that anything is possible for him, that he can dream just as big as any other kid.
When Reece was young, he looked up to the larger-than-life superheroes in his favorite comics. But there aren't a lot of stories out there that feature a hero with Down syndrome for Ollie to look up to. And that bothered him.
So Reece decided to write a comic book of his own.
"I wanted Ollie to see that people with Down syndrome could be superheroes too," he says.
Though not an artist or storyteller by trade, Reece dug deep into his love of comics, and his love for his son, and went about designing a story he pulled very much from Ollie's real life.
The comic, called "Metaphase," follows a young boy named Ollie whose dad has Superman-like powers.
Of course, comic book character Ollie wants to follow in his father's footsteps and get in on the whole saving the world thing. But Super Dad, for all his cosmic strength, is too afraid of what might happen to his son while fighting villains.
"As Ollie gets older he becomes tired of his dad's overprotection and unwillingness to include him in his superhero adventures," Reece wrote on a Kickstarter page for the project. "Ollie has lived his life listening to the world tell him he will be limited in what he can do, with the added frustration of comparing to a dad with unlimited ability."
Ollie begs a scientist to bestow super powers upon him.
Eventually, Ollie seeks out a mysterious corporation that promises to give anyone super powers via a little genetic tampering.
Unfazed by his disability, and the limits placed on him by his dad and the world around him, Ollie refuses to let anything stop him from becoming the world's next great hero.
Woohoo! Ollie celebrates on his journey to become a superhero.
With over 400,000 people in the United States living with Down syndrome, and very, very little representation in pop culture, "Metaphase" is a much needed addition to the superhero universe.
As for Ollie? He just recently realized that the book is actually about him, and he loves it. All the attention doesn't get Ollie too excited though, Reece says, and he's plenty happy to just sit and listen to music or toss a ball around.
"There is more to him than having Down syndrome," Reece told People. "He is his own person and has his own personality, and with everything he has been through, he really is a superhero."