Port Huron author turns imagination into reality

Dillon Barr was only an elementary school student when he wrote his first book. A simple classroom assignment led to a nonfiction award, prompting his grandmother to say, “You’re going to be an author one day.”

What Barr didn’t expect was for that passing piece of encouragement to come true. Years later, Barr went to study advertising at Central Michigan University, hoping to take a path in sales, something he’s always had a passion and talent for.

That passion took him to Kenya, working as a consultant, alongside his wife. In his travels, he became immersed in the culture, religion, way of living, and eventually the community of kids who live there.

Barr would spend time with the youth in Kenya, teaching them allegories about their world through storytelling. That’s when he started developing the concept of the three paths: The builder, the explorer, and the defender.

Builders want to make something of the world around them and be the best at doing it. Explorers are people who like to try new things and see new places. As for defenders, they want to protect what they have. 

He took those paths and helped the kids figure out which one was calling to them. From there, they would create their own characters and imaginary worlds.

Dillon Barr works with students in a classroom, teaching them about how to find to find their path.

Barr continued to use the three paths as a lesson for kids a little bit closer to home in Port Huron. He went from school to school, talking to students of different ages about the power of imagination and how it could help them find who they are.

“This young girl raises her hand, and I went to call on her and she goes, ‘I'm a defender. I want to be a defender,’ and I'm like […] why? And she goes well, my great, great grandfather was in the military, and he fought to protect us because he cares about us, and I want to be like him,” Barr says, describing one of his visits to a Port Huron area school. “Like that's so cool. Just to think of what motivates a young kid is part of their family.”

But when he started writing his first book, he realized it had to be a comic book. While the real world continues, Barr says he uses comic book art and storytelling to make worlds of his own. 

The decision to go in the direction of a comic book became the creation of his own company, Unfound Adventures. The drive to inspire young kids and develop their vision of the world around them only grew.

Bastunia is the imaginary world at the center of Barr’s Unfound Adventure series. Each person who lives in Bastunia has been given the gift of a spiritual beast companion by the god of their world. The beasts are used as guides for the people of Bastunia to find their life’s calling. 

The imagination of the kids he works with is always at the center of his work, so he made them a part of Unfound Adventures. 
An example drawing of a character by one of the kids that Dillon Barr has worked with.
After connecting with a company out of Europe that develops tabletop games, similar to Dungeons and Dragons, Barr and his team jump-started a program that collects drawings and ideas, and turns them into characters or narratives to be incorporated into comics.

“Not only is this an imagination incubator for young kids to create characters for our world, it's for adults to say, ‘Hey, I want to do a children's book, I want to do a novel,’” Barr says. 

Barr’s childhood dream has now grown into something that’s impacted kids and adults. He says making that dream a reality comes from the great work of his team, who helped to author Unfound Adventures and illustrate the American-style comic book scenes that tell the story.

All three Unfound Aventures comics are currently available on Amazon. He plans to continue adding a few books each year within the series. 

The series is also available on its website. Readers can purchase a map of the Bastunia world to add to their experience and printable worksheets for kids to fill out and discover their calling. 

“I say you have to lose yourself in order to find yourself,” Barr says. “It's like the young kids like, they're not thinking of all these rigid rules of this world. They're getting lost in this world, but they gain self-awareness throughout the process.”

While watching his company grow and unfold, Barr says that no matter where things go next, his career is also about creating a legacy his son can look up to one day. 

“It just would be really cool to have a conversation with him where it doesn't matter how big this gets, but he's like, ‘man, Dad, you tried, I think it's so cool that you just put yourself out there.’”

Barr adds people can keep up with Unfound Adventures on social media, and support the work through a Kickstarter, which has funded all of their comics.
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