January; an important month that brings with it new beginnings and rejuvenating starts. Four weeks, in which the plastic is torn from calendars and the spines of virgin diaries are bent as their pages accumulate information and data in preparation for the coming year. A period of time in which plans are made and discarded and resolutions are broken and obtained.
January has always been a significant time for me as I celebrate my birthday on its 11th day, and as we near the middle of January 2016, it no longer represents a time of a New Year and a birthday for me, but an anniversary. The end of this month marks a year of Books, Films and Random Lunacy, and to celebrate I will be launching the first in a new segment to be found on this blog entitled, ‘A Chat with.’ Where I converse with fellow writers and creators about their work, discovering more about their individual creative processes and what inspires them. Expect the first instalment next week and feel free to join my talented guest and I as we discuss random lunacy in all its forms.
Whilst I have your attention dear reader, I would urge you to check out a wonderful piece of artistry I recently discovered through social media.
‘Department of Ability’ is a comic book series written and illustrated by artist Dan White which centres on a unique group of superheroes with extraordinary powers. White created the title for his nine-year-old daughter Emily who was born with Spina Bifida but remains fun-loving and courageous despite her limited mobility.
When the family realised there were no characters in movies, TV or literature who their daughter could relate to, White set about creating a story featuring a collective of heroes whose greatest strengths lie in their disabilities with Emily herself as the main character.
As you know dear reader, I have a condition called Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy that affects all four of my limbs to various degrees and means I am a full-time wheelchair-user.
For as long as I can remember I have been frustrated and quite frankly saddened by the lack of disabled characters and personalities on our television screens and in the pages of magazines. It surprises me in a century as enlightened as ours, where the majority of lifestyles and body-types are catered for that disability somehow remains a taboo.
All my life, I have longed to see more positive and complete portrayals of disabled people in the public domain. A wish that was granted in 2012, when the Paralympics received much wider mainstream coverage and Channel 4’s comedy show, ‘The Last Leg’ gained vast popularity stretching far beyond its Paralympic roots. However there’s still a long road to travel before an equal representation is achieved within mainstream media; hopefully this comic will help shorten the journey.
Nothing thrills me more than seeing people like Super Emily and her dad not only embracing her differences but celebrating them as well. I am happy to say that this truly heart-warming project is building quite the following with supporters including the charity Scope and Paralympic legend Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson. It is inspiring to see people creating something delightful and empowering from the toughest situations and with luck the ‘Department of Ability’ are not only born to be different and save the world, but to change it as well.
Check out the Department of Ability at: www.departmentofability.com
Follow them on Twitter: @DeptOfAbility
Find them on Facebook at: Department of Ability Facebook