We all know that people with Epilepsy, and those who support them are superheroes every single day. But one epileptic explorer out there has taken things to the next level by creating and becoming the crime fighting, epilepsy battling superhero ToteMan.
ToteMan, a superhero who fights crime with his signature flaming screwdriver goes beyond the call of duty by not only battling villains but by spreading the word about epilepsy awareness, helping people with seizures, and informing others of what to do when they see someone who may be suffering from an epileptic episode. ToteMan was created by John McLaren, who suffers from epilepsy, in 2002 as a way to explain his own condition to his then 7 year old son. Although the original short story was written specifically for John’s son it quickly began to impact others’ lives. As he explained to me, “The person that left the biggest impression was a young girl in college who read the story.” She had epilepsy herself, and upon reading John’s initial short story starring ToteMan in a class they took together, she told him that it moved her to tears and made her realize that she was not alone in her battle with epilepsy. It was that moment that made McLaren realize just how important ToteMan’s message was, and how vast of an audience he could reach with the story. This young woman’s response inspired John to work with a comic artist to conceptualize the look of ToteMan and create his first comic, fittingly titled “You Are Not Alone.”
I won’t sully you with any spoilers. The comic, which is free to download, print and share (actions that are highly encouraged by John by the way) is available at ToteMansworld.com. The site also includes video of ToteMan aiding a child who is having a seizure and additional illustrated comics starring other characters from the ToteMan world and their differing experiences with epilepsy.
John’s sons think it is very cool to have an epileptic superhero for a father. One son has even followed in his footsteps by creating his own character, and another dons the much-loved ToteMan costume from time to time at Epilepsy Foundation events and awareness walks. ToteMan has led John to become a spokesman for epilepsy himself. He has been invited to be a guest at the 2010 Epilepsy Walk in Washington D.C. and a speaker at the Kids Speak Up event.
John has big things planned for ToteMan. “I am working on a few origin stories for characters in the ToteMan Universe that promote positive messages like friendship, individuality, and global awareness.” He is searching for a way to produce more hard copies of the comic to give out for free in order to continue to spread ToteMan’s message about epilepsy safety and inclusiveness. He is even seeking funding for a cartoon based off of the comics. I can say with great certainty, that this epileptic explorer would love to see that show happen.
We should all take a page from John and the world he’s created through ToteMan. He is truly an inspiration, a reminder that we are all superheroes in our own ways. We are made stronger by our epilepsy, not weaker, and we are capable of an immeasurable amount amazing things.
If you would like to learn more about ToteMan and ways you can support the mission to spread epilepsy awareness in this amazingly unique way just click here and shoot John a message.
You are all superheroes.
– The Epileptic Explorer