John Elhardt BFA Illustration Thesis Spring 2018


Rustbelt is a Sci fi adventure story and worldbuilding project. Centuries after humankind’s extinction, intelligent machines and robots have risen up and claimed the broken land-scape as their own. They survive in the dilapidated remnants of human civilization, trying to find their own paths in life. The main characters, robots named Chip and Rai are propelled into a grand adventure centering around the small robot Chip. They seek to stop Chip’s creator, a mechanical tyrant named Kind Argustus, from taking over and mind controlling all machines left on Earth.

Rustbelt also deals with themes relating to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The main character, Chip, exhibits behaviors and symptoms of people on the autism spectrum. My goal is to have a realistic representation of the issues that people on the spectrum deal with on a daily basis, including serious things like overstimulation, depression, and learning life skills and coping mechanisms. The aim of Rustbelt is to have a good sci fi story with good representation of a character on the spectrum created by on artist who lives with ASD.

While representation for people with Autism is at an all-time high, people with autism are just now getting in on the global conversation. Many messages about autism are focused toward to the family, and not towards the individuals living with ASD. Many roles involving people on the spectrum in Hollywood or otherwise usually aren’t played by people
on the spectrum, which is problematic. I want to be my own advocate, and an advocate for other with ASD as well that we can produce our own creative material around our disorders and control our own narrative.

Rustbelts is made for an audience of children to young adults, dealing with serious and often overlooked symptoms of having ASD. I want to arm young readers who have ASD with tools for coping and managing their symptoms, as well as having media that they can personally relate to.

49 albums

Spring 2018