Beauty and the Beast Star Kickstarts Unlikely Teen Comic Book
Editor’s Note: This project is now 100% funded thanks to the support of the community!
LOS ANGELES, CA – Austin Basis, who is known among The CW Television Network (CW) fans for his long-running portrayal of the ingenious and comical J.T. Forbes on all four seasons of the sci-fi drama Beauty and the Beast — is looking to raise funds for a personal Kickstarter project spotlighting and empowering characters that have been traditionally sidelined in the entertainment industry’s massive, growing universe of comic book heroes.
I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for more than 32 years. I was diagnosed just two weeks before my 9th birthday, and my father owned a candy store at the time — so the news was devastating for me! I’d never eat candy again without knowing my blood sugar. But over that time, with the help of extremely supportive parents, I’ve learned to deal with the responsibility and stress of giving myself daily injections, pricking my finger to test my blood sugar levels, counting carbohydrates, managing my highs and lows, etc. When I was a kid, though, this way of life wasn’t as easy or fun. And to be frank, it’s still not.
I never thought of diabetes as something that would get in the way of me pursuing my dreams. That dream went from being a professional baseball player for the New York Mets to becoming a pediatrician to pursing an acting career to now creating a comic book to inspire and empower other young people.
As an actor in the public eye, I’ve devoted my free time to organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as an ambassador to raise money and awareness for diabetes research. I’ve never been comfortable with the sob story you often hear at fundraising events. I understand it’s used to help raise money by eliciting sympathy from donors, but I choose to look at my diagnosis as a gift and to empower young people to do the same.
My goal, instead, is to raise the self-esteem and confidence of kids with T1D, instilling in them the idea that they can be and do anything they want to in life — and nothing should get in their way. That even a Type 1 diabetic kid from Brooklyn could be a superhero, or at least be an actor who plays a superhero on a TV show or in a blockbuster movie some day! This is how the idea for The KINETIX was born.
The KINETIX is a comic book series that I co-created, with Dave Maulbeck and Josh Taub, about a remarkable group of high school kids with disabilities — who are students by day and a team of superheroes by night. These “disabilities” are the very source from which their superpowers emerge. If you have what the world sees as a “disability,” we believe you innately have a greater potential energy than those that don’t have one. You carry that energy with you at all times and have the power to turn it into kinetic energy, and use it for good. The KINETIX isn’t an after-school special. These are flawed, three-dimensional characters with a full range of emotions. But they don’t get bitter — they make the world better by turning their perceived weakness into their greatest strength.
Growing up, I never had a T1D role model to look up to like the amazing people at Beyond Type 1, and other organizations like it. It’s the main reason I do what I do within the diabetes community. As part of my advocacy work, I’ve met tons of young people with T1D and their journeys have actually inspired me.
A boy’s mother once told me that he would tell his friends he was a cyborg to explain why he wore an insulin pump, rather than trying to educate them on the intricacies of T1D. So we created a KINETIX character named Bobby Byers, whose insulin pump electrifies his body and turns him into the cyborg CYABETES!
Most of the day, Bobby is a jock who gets picked on for having to check his levels constantly, and dose insulin or drink juice to get his blood sugar back to normal in the middle of basketball games. But at night, as Cyabetes, his potential energy is tapped into and made kinetic. Two canon blasters form on his wrists: one is able to launch toxic insulin rockets and the other shoots highly potent glucagon projectiles. When he needs to break through a wall or any type of obstacle, he uses a radioactive version of insulin to dissolve or disintegrate the barrier in his way. When in the heat of battle and fighting bad guys, he can use the super sugar glucagon to slow his opponents down or to poison them.
The rest of the KINETIX team is made up of kids with various ailments, ranging from a hearing impairment to autism to paraplegia. They all have this super-powered ability to rise above their impediments, and fight the forces of evil in the name of good. But can these kids find their inner strength and overcome their adversity, while still maintaining their uncommon existence? How do people with disabilities assimilate into a society that treats them as “less than?” What’s more difficult — having a disability, saving the world or getting through high school?
In a world that is sometimes cruel and unsympathetic, we want to inspire and uplift kids to turn their perceived weaknesses into their greatest strengths. This is what The KINETIX is all about. People with disabilities and chronic conditions, like Type 1 diabetes, are an extremely marginalized community — an overlooked, highly undervalued part of society who’ve been left out of popular culture and entertainment, yet have a perspective of the world around us that is unique, insightful and powerful. The KINETIX is a story in which that power is a SUPER one … and the time to tell that story is now.
Our hope is that a comic book series like The KINETIX will give kids the opportunity to see and read about fictional characters like themselves, and empower and motivate them to aspire to do great things in their lives — not despite a medical diagnosis, but because of it!
Head to The KINETIX Kickstarter page and find out more.