"Episode 5 of the 2014 Cosmos reboot featured the story of a penniless Bavarian boy named Joseph von Fraunhofer. Born in 1787 and orphaned at the age of 11, Joseph was forced into hard labor. He toiled every living day in the brutal heat of a glass workshop, and spent every night performing chores in his master’s home.
When he was 14, the workshop collapsed, burying him alive. A rescue effort led by Prince Maximilian Joseph saved his life. The prince took an immediate interest in the precocious boy. He provided him with books, and forced his master to allow him to study. The boy showed an extraordinary aptitude for the burgeoning field of physics, and at 21, with money given to him by the prince, he was able to pursue a formal education. Within just a few years, Joseph von Fraunhofer invented the spectroscope, one of the most important scientific advancements in human history.
This historical anecdote left me shaken. To this day, the thought of it makes me feel angry and deeply heartbroken. Throughout modern history, and all over the world, millions of brilliant minds have withered and died anonymously, never having had their opportunity to blossom. Some weren’t rich enough, some weren’t male enough, some weren’t white enough. All of them deserved better."
- Ezra Clayton Daniels
Ezra Clayton Daniels is the recipient of the 2017 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics for his web-comic series Upgrade Soul. The story follows Hang and Molly Nonnar as they undergo a risky, experimental procedure that hopes to revivify subjects and prolong life expectancy by filtering toxins from their body; however, they soon realize their hopes for youth are dashed by terrifying results.
Daniels is a dedicated supporter of diversity in culture and history, and discusses his these values in an exclusive essay written for Entertainment Weekly. "When non-men and people of color are represented positively in popular culture, it has the dual effect of giving little girls and children of color role models, as well as teaching little white children that women and minorities have value to contribute," Daniels explained.
Upgrade Soul is now slated to be bound in a printed graphic novel format by Lion Forge, releasing September 2018. To read Daniels full essay on Entertainment Weekly, click here.