Dispatch from a Heroic Satellite

Heroes are all around us, in movies and in books, on the basketball court and in the hospital, in our homes and in our classrooms. They give us inspiration and entertainment. But what makes a hero? Where do they come from? And how are their journeys similar?

I recently had the pleasure of teaching a four-week Hero’s Journey class at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, in conjunction with Wild Times. Over the course of the class, we discussed the different elements of the structure laid out in Joseph Campbell’s book, A Hero’s Journey, explored the idea of the artist as hero, talked about Susan’s trek, and made our own 3D-printed talismans. We wrote letters, plays, and newspaper articles, answered hero questionnaires, and drew comic strips. The students each came away from the class with a fully-fleshed out hero character, ranging from a frustrated high school baseball player to a superhero who can melt into goo, from an angel trapped between heaven and earth to a feisty shoplifting witch who listens to Joy Division.

– Michael David Lukas, Teacher of A Hero’s Journey at 826 Valencia


08_solange_ChestKeyCompassImages by Tivon Rice

If you’re interested in creating your own hero character, try out this Hero Questionnaire, modified from National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writer’s Project:

Hero Questionnaire

1. Name:

2. Age:

3. Height:

4. Eye color:

5. Physical appearance:

6. Strange or unique physical appearance:

7. Hobbies/interests:

8. Where does he or she live? What is it like there?

9. Special skills/abilities:

10. Family (describe):

11. Description of his or her house:

12. Description of his or her bedroom:

13. Favorite bands/songs/type of music:

14. Favorite movies:

15. Favorite TV shows:

16. Favorite books:

17. Favorite foods:

Bonus Questions!

1. Favorite clothing style/outfit:

2. Special gestures/movements (i.e., curling his or her lip when he or she speaks, always keeping his or her eyes on the ground, etc.):

3. Things about his or her appearance he or she would most like to change:

4. Speaking style (fast, talkative, monotone, etc.):

5. Fondest memory:

6. Insecurities:

7. Quirks:

8. Temperament (easygoing, easily angered, etc.):

9. Negative traits:

10. Things that upset him or her:

11. Things that embarrass him or her:

12. This character really cares about:

13. Things that make him or her happy:

14. Deepest, darkest secret:

15. Reason he or she kept this secret for so long:

16. Other people’s opinions of this character (What do people like about this character? What do they dislike about this character?):

17. Dream vacation:

18. Any pets?

19. Best thing that has ever happened to this character:

20. Worst thing that has ever happened to this character:

21. Superstitions:

22. Three words to describe this character:

23. If a song played every time this character walked into the room, what song would it be?