Southern Brooklyn

Bay Ridge father, son with autism, create comic books to provide autism awareness

April 25, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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Not all superheroes wear costumes, and a boy and his father are proving just that.

Jake Bradshaw, 11, and his father Led Bradshaw of Bay Ridge have created “The Adventures of Jake Jetpulse,” a series of comic books that provide autism awareness and acceptance for kids.

The stories provide a glimpse into Jake’s life growing up on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed eight years ago.

Led, a professional comic book illustrator,  said that his son has always loved superheroes, with a closet full of costumes and capes in his room since he was three years old.

Once Jake got into comic books, the conversations that the two had were meaningful and memorable.

“As a self-proclaimed comic book geek, I thought it was awesome that we both shared this common love,” he said. “Because of this bond, I’ve been able to share my DVDs of old cartoons that were big when I was a child.”

As Jake grew older, he became more interested in art. Led helped Jake express himself through art and encouraged him to draw himself as a superhero. Their venture started in 2018 and has evolved since.

The villains and monsters in Jake Jetpulse comics come from Jake’s nightmares, Led said. Jake would draw them and name them. To fight off the nightmares, Led created monster-repellent spray in his cartoons.

“Autism Is My Super Power,” proclaims this Jake Jetpulse illustration

Led said that the process of creating these comics have been therapeutic and educational for both of them. 

“This character in the comic allowed me to connect with Jake’s special interests and really learn his language,” he said. “The New Adventures of Jake Jetpulse gave Jake a tremendous boost to his self-esteem.” 

“This was a kid who was overlooked and made fun of at the playground. Now he’s his own hero and role model. It has really helped him understand the world around him,” he added.

In the beginning, the main character didn’t have autism. However, Led thought he would be more unique and relatable as an autistic hero.

“I took the three hallmarks off autism — deficits in social communication, adherence to routines, difficulty with reading others — and divided them into the three main characters,” he said.

He said that neurotypical, or non-autistic, children embraced the changes that the two of them made to the character, and that this development opened new doors by which they could tell stories using relatable scenarios that are common to individuals on the autism spectrum.

Artwork from a Jake Jetpulse adventure: “Sibling Rivalry.”

In the comics, Jake wanted the “J” on the main character’s uniform to refer to an imaginary symbol in their comic universe that means “Stand Together.”

“If you’re diagnosed with autism, that’s not bad,” Jake said. “It’s okay. You’re still unique and you can do anything.” 

So far, the response has been positive as Jake’s surrounded by so many people who love him and want the best for him.

“I want to show the world that you can have an amazing comic with action and adventure, as well as educational value,” he said. “I want kids to see an autistic character that is not defined but empowered by their unique interactions with and perspectives on the world.”

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