The Special Needs Gang

Who doesn’t enjoy Snoopy and Woodstock or the Family Circus gang? Because our current class discussions have concerned disability recognition in the arts, I set out to determine whether this expression extends to the realm of comic strips. Behold…disability is represented! A Google search (“comics about disabilities”) generated several related results. I studied a handful and read through their corresponding articles. Each author seems to have taken a slightly different approach to representing disability:

The Special Needs Gang:…..Vast Horizons, Inc. published this strip in February 2012. Each of its lead characters has a disability, a first for newspapers in the United States. “Following the current trend of bringing developmental disabilities into the public spotlight, VHIconnect wants to introduce children (and adults) to this previously hidden world of special needs in a fun, lighthearted way, while also making them aware of the adversity these individuals face.” The comic shown on this page is about two individuals discussing disability. According to their conversation, God REALLY loves disabled people and “took away their abilities” so that they could help others to learn about “kindness and charity.”

DitzAbled Princess:…Jewel Michelle Kats is the author of this comical diary. (Katarina Andriopoulus creates the illustrations and overall design.) Because Kats has a physical disability, the strip is inspired by her real life experiences: “It’s the first mainstream comic strip about a woman who works as an author, shops like crazy, bugs her frugal husband 24/7, lives with her parents and sister, has a dog in diapers, and has physical disabilities all at the same time.” The main character, Jewel, sports a pink elbow crutch and is quite witty. Kats has created a character who recognizes her disability, but doesn’t allow it to hold her back.

Obsessive Compulsive Cartooning:…A man by the name of Dan Piraro likes to call himself “Bizarro.” Unlike VHIconnect and Kats, Bizarro makes fun of people with disabilities. His cartoons involve taking a controversially humorous approach to disability; one is “about a band called the “A.D.D.s” in which all of the teenage musicians were scattered about the stage, busy doing something other than playing music.” The cartoon displayed on the page I viewed depicted a band called “OCDC,” with a lead singer who could not get past his initial testing of the microphone. Because Bizarro claims to have a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder, he feels as though this particular comic was a “safer” piece.

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