Super Crip strikes again and this time it’s a Disabled person who’s supporting that urban myth that when we loose one of our senses, we develop our remaining senses to become super improved to compensate!
The man in question is the latest recruit to the Brussels police, who, along with five other blind and visually impaired detectives have been enlisted to aid the fight against international terrorism and drug trafficking.
The article, which appears in the Independent earlier this week, quotes a police spokesman as saying that not only can they separate individual voices from a cacophony of sound but they can also pick up on clues which sighted officers might miss – whether a suspect is talking in a railway station or a restaurant, whether the caller is using a landline or a mobile phone and, in very rare cases, whether the hum of a car engine comes from a BMW or a Citroen (!!).
They just make it too easy for me don’t they?!
Incidentally, were not sure why some of the cartoons on this blog come out in different sizes when they are all uploaded at the same size. Nor is it understood why some of the speech bubbles have clearer text in some and not others. Once the techies have sorted this out we’ll redo the cartoons for you.
I’ve had a look at an article being written in support of trying to bring the two 'camps' of carers and Disabled people together to campaign on the fundamental, underlying issue of adequate social care. I must admit to having a pretty knee jerk reaction whenever the subject of carers, linked to Disabled people, comes up! I can even remember upsetting a few carer support groups with cartoons I’ve done in the past! I think there were issues around the terminology itself and the very split between the needs of the two groups. Some of you may know that there’s a cross government review taking place at the moment, chaired by our own Jane Campbell, who tried to bring in issues effecting both carers and Disable people. However she discovered that the departments dealing with these issues are different, and therefore the civil servants in each department don’t communicate with each other! Sounds about right eh!
When you think about it, there’s always been a problem with fitting people into the neat boxes constructed by the power that be – in this case disabled people themselves being carers, parents, etc.
I anticipate that one of the comments that this cartoon might generate being ‘but both groups look the same - so which are the carers?!’ I think that’s the point we’re trying to make her folks!
Whilst we’ve been in Spain we’ve tried to make contact with other Disabled people down here, preferably Spanish. We had some success communicating with a deaf guy a little while ago, mainly through his Spanish sign language and Jeni’s BSL, which had a lot of similarity. He belonged to a Deaf group in Granada which was mainly a social thing. He didn’t really have any concept of Deaf politics, nor about Disability politics generally. He sold raffle tickets for a living and had a licence from the local authority allowing him to do his. Apparently a lot of his friends do this, as work opportunities for Disabled people are pretty limited according to him.
Talking about raffle tickets, those of you who’ve visited Spain may have seen the little ‘Once’ (pronounced on-say) kiosks scattered around the towns and at the entrances to super markets etc. This is a national lottery run by one of the biggest charities for the blind (sic) in Spain. The kiosks are staffed by blind or visually impaired people and seem to be extremely popular with Spaniards everywhere. There are big cash prizes every month which are drawn on national television, a bit like our own National Lottery. We haven’t been able to find out much about the actual organisation; whether it’s run and controlled by Disabled people (unlikely) or how much of the proceeds are put back into services for Disabled people. We’ll keep digging and let you know.
Jen had a meet with a group of Disabled people down on the coast a little while ago. Her Spanish wasn’t up to much at that time so she didn’t get too involved. Again it seemed that they were mainly a social group and on a par with where UK crips were about 25 years ago. She’s taken some of my Social Model cartoons to show them, which they related too; especially one’s based upon physical access issues. Now that her Spanish is much improved, we plan to try and meet up with them again and find out a bit more about their lives here in Spain. If our local contact is anything to go by (you’ll recall the story of the wheelbarrow woman on Sunday 11th November 07) they haven’t yet identified the concept that it’s barriers within society that disable them (social model) and are still pretty much wrapped up in the medical/charitable understanding that seems prevalent in this part of Spain.
Jeni’s worn a back brace for as long as I’ve known her. She recently changed from the heavy-duty leather type prescribed by the NHS, to a lightweight model which we’ve sourced in Spain. This new one is fastened by Velcro and doesn’t have the many straps and buckles that the NHS go in for. The reason I mention this is that I’ve now taken to wearing something similar (the discs in my back having finally given up the ghost and come out in sympathy with the rest of my ailing body!) and I’m now also able to enjoy the delights of Velcro fastenings.
Imagine the scene. It’s still fairly warm here during the day and we’re still wearing t-shirts. By one of those strange co-incidences my t-shirt has ridden up a bit at the back exposing a bit of the Velcro fastening, and Jeni has the top of her brace poking out of the collar of her t-shirt. No problem there, which is until we accidentally back into each other and our Velcro decides to hold hands. We suddenly find ourselves well and truly stuck together!
No exaggeration, it took a fair bit of pulling before we parted with a loud ripping noise that not only frightened the two dogs, but sent us both shooting off in opposite directions! Following this incident, whenever we need to pass each other now, we face each other, and circle round like wary gunfighters before going our different directions!
Well, we thought it was funny!
Along with the personal computer (PC), the other major influence on my cartooning life has been the introduction of the Internet and the world-wide-web (www). The time that I’ve spent educating myself about this medium has been a worthwhile investment and it has more than compensated for itself over the recent years. I am now able to carry a virtual portfolio of my work around with me, anywhere there is a computer connected to the internet. I can send an image across the world in seconds and receive a client’s feedback in an instant. I can access a vast resource of information about any issue that I care to look at, invaluable when creating a cartoon about a current political issue.
Another question I get asked is how do I see my work progressing in the future? I know that I’d like to explore animation for my characters, perhaps introducing the social model understanding to a wider audience for example, perhaps as the disabled person’s equivalent of Toy Story or one of the other successful animated cartoon films. I’d also like to become more involved in the interactive side of the internet. I’m sure that there’s a vast untapped resource waiting here for disabled people to utilise and use it to remove many of the barriers that still exist in our society. Who knows? I try and live in the moment, which tends to have enough surprises and unexpected situations arising to keep me busy. Ask me again in ten years!
Village Fiesta today so I’m up supervising the setting up of the hall for the knees up tonight. Have some sturdy volunteers to shin up and down ladders and hang the giant mobiles I’ve constructed in the week. Should get to bed about 3am If we’re lucky!
Oh dear, started something here. Now our faithful Editor Colin has restarted his own blog in these pages and has targeted me for some pay back. Well deserved, I have to admit. I'm going to have to mind my P's and Q's from now on eh? - although I wouldn't hold your breath! I don't think he realised, but his opening line "I understand that reprobate Crippen's missus has become a blog widow!" sort of implies that Jeni's the reprobate?! I think there's an email from Mrs Crippen winging it's way to Col' even as we speak! ;-)
Another event yesterday saw the invasion of our quiet little village by hi-vis jacket wearing hombres from the big city of Granada. The whole area is undergoing a tart -up due to it being designated one of the major tourist spots in Southern Spain (have to agree with them there). We've already had street lights installed (resulting in the loss of our amazing star lit nights) and they've now decided to widen the road. Nothing too major there, you probably think. Wrong! These city boys, with no appreciation of the finer point of local flora and fauna have been indiscriminately hacking away at everything in sight. All the olive trees that have been overhanging the road for generations, and which are now loaded with olives ready for harvesting, have been slaughtered.The same with the orange trees, fig trees, etc. All of the flowering shrubs and other colourful plants that make this such a tourist attraction have also been hacked away, causing tears and angry exchanges from the old ladies of the village who have so carefully tended them over the years. It's autocracy gone mad I tell you, and you thought it only happened in the UK?!
Predictably the local paper has got hold of the story and I've been asked to put my 'Sox' hat on and create a cartoon of the event. I've called it the Tijola chainsaw massacre and I've produced it here for you to see. I'll be putting my Crippen hat back on for you tomorrow!
Oops. Seem to have lost a day somewhere! Spent yesterday frantically finding space in the house for the giant mobiles I've constructed for the village fiesta. We get so used to having never ending blue sky and sunshine that when it rains, as it did yesterday for the first time in about 8 weeks, we get caught with our watsits down. Or in my case, caught with the mobile hanging from olive trees around the terraces! No harm done though, although it's weird eating breakfast with a giant red triangle hovering over your head!
Had an email from Col’ our faithful editor this morning. He’s cracked the coding for putting each month of this blog onto a separate page (you can find the link for October over on the right now … no, up a bit … yes, there!). So you’ll only have to struggle with one month at a time on this presenting page. Are we kind to you or what?!
Col' also added … “I like the fact that Jeff contacts you in bloody Spain to let you know about LDAF's Tate Modern debate. I emailed LDAF to ask if I could go - and haven't heard a word. Will have to give them another phone call! Dear oh dear ... I just know this is going to end up in your blog ..!”
Surely not dear boy?! ;-)
Jeff, from the London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF), got in touch the other day and asked me if I had heard about the LDAF/Tate Modern debate at 7pm on Monday 3rd December, in the Starr auditorium. The title of the debate is Should Disability and Deaf Art be dead and buried in the 21st Century? The panel includes Sandy Nairne, Paddy Masefield OBE, Yinka Shonibare, Nabil Shaban, Ju Gosling and Jenny Sealey. The debate will be chaired by Melvyn Bragg.
If you want more information, have a look on this link
There’s also a survey that’s been commissioned about this very subject. Here is the link for the survey, if you want to take part.
Incidentally, the debate is also on the same day as the International Day of Disabled People - A double date for your diary.
Hi Carlita, thanks for your comments. You're very kind. I had look at your site and saw your black and white characters. I can understand why you're connected to them in the way that you are.
Just to show you that it’s not only cartooning that I do, I sometimes get dragged into local events down here in Southern Spain. One such event was last Thursday when I was approached by the older mujeres of the village (little old ladies who all wear the black of widowhood) and asked if I can decorate the village hall for them for the forthcoming village fiesta. We used it last year for Jeni’s birthday celebration (no, I’m not saying how old!) and I managed to get hold of the big flags that are made by a mate called Angus and which are used at the Womad festivals. We hung the flags from the ceiling, which is about 25’ high (that’s about 8 meters) and the effect was to break up the echo that is caused by it being a huge great barn of a place. I also made some big bamboo frames and hung the large multi-coloured Alpujarran carpets on them for standing against the wall and deadening the sound still further. We topped it off with huge fig tree branches hanging from the walls festooned with fairy lights. Quite a nice effect, even if I say so myself. Well, that was it. Once the village elders saw what I’d done, I was instantly appointed village hall decorator for all future occasions!
This time I’ve made them some large bamboo frames (smallest is about 3 meters square), and covered them with rolls of lining paper. I’ve then painted them all different colours, and the plan is to hang them along the ceiling as a giant mobile. The fiesta is at the weekend and it’s to celebrate a Saint who appeared to a villager about 150 years ago and told her to tell her neighbours not to drink the town water. Sure enough, most of the town folk died of cholera the next month, where as all the villagers were saved. Viva Santo Corvero! We have fireworks, a parade of the Saint through the village (not him personally I hasten to add, just a large effigy) and then it’s all topped off with a party in the village hall with dancing until about 4am the next morning. And this is with a population whose average age is about 60! Hopefully, the large mobile will do the same job as the giant flags last year and also add a bit of colour. I’ll let you now how it goes.
And if my mother sees the above cartoon and starts to worry (you know what they're like!) No mum, I won't be going up into the roof myself. Manolo and his mother have volunteered (he's 60 and she's 82!). Well, it's their ladders so what can you do?!
The computer has revolutionised my work over the past 10 years or so. I can remember drawing cartoons by hand, inking them in, and then hunting for the right sized envelope to post them on to a client. I used fax machines to send a rough and then waited for the return fax with any amendments needed. I can also remember frantically drawing a cartoon and waiting for the ink to dry, as a leather clad motorcycle courier waited to whip it down the MI to the BBC Studios in London! Talk about deadlines. Not sure how I survived the stress!
I now draw the basic cartoon, scan the image onto my computer (a HP Pavilion notebook zd8000 for those interested), it then opens into Photoshop; gets converted to RGB colour and off I go. I’ve taught myself to draw with the mouse, so I make any changes I want, sometimes resizing and repositioning the characters; add colour; add the speech bubble and text and then finally reduce the overall image down to a compatible size for the internet. I’m also a bit paranoid about backing my stuff up and use a detachable hard drive as well as the PC hard drive, as well as burning a CD (just in case!).
It goes without saying that I use a strong virus protection (Shield deluxe) and firewall (Shield) that gets updated daily. I also use a couple of products called Spybot and PC Doc Pro which are great for eliminating spyware, adware, etc., which really slows a computer down. PC Pro also helps you find and destroy temporary files that you inevitably get when surfing the web. I also run Adware and Registry Mechanic as a sort of belt and braces thing. I’m still amazed at the number of people I come across who don’t back up and don’t have any up-to-date virus protection or Firewall. When the inevitable happens and they crash and burn, there’s usually nothing left to even start off with again. Be safe on the web people, it’s a battlefield out there!
Decided to put the blog format back to the way it was for now as it’s presented some editing difficulties with the months in reverse order. So I’m afraid it’s still the case of scrolling down to the bottom for the latest entry. Colin is busy working out the coding to build me some archive pages so that we can run with the current month here, and with the past months accessed via a link at the side. This should make for a less cumbersome blog for you to access. That’s the plan anyway!
Had a reminder that I forgot to do Part 2 of the cartooning process, so, slapped wrist and here it is. I’m trying to keep it pretty basic, as well as interesting so if you want more info, just give me a call via the web site and I’ll be happy to share stuff with you.
Those of you who’ve visited my other blog on the a-n arts site (temporarily suspended while I concentrate my efforts on this one) will know that I‘ve admitted to having another cartooning identity. Someone saw one of my Spanish ‘Laughabull’ cartoons whilst on holiday in the Alpujarras and made the connection. My other pen name is Sox and I use this identity to address more mainstream issues, mainly in the commercial market. My work as Sox is up on my main web site, along with the Crippen Gallery. Just click on the Sox button when you next visit the Crippen site and you’ll see all of the Sox subject folders, including the Laughabulls, Driving over Lemons, and much more.
Sometimes I find that the boundary gets a bit blurred between these two areas of cartooning. Like for example a series I did for the sleep apnoea clinic in Hastings. I produced them under the Sox name, but they could have really fitted into the Crippen gallery. The same with some issues I addressed about Asthma - very Crippenesque! All very confusing sometimes … (no wonder he doesn’t know who he is most of the time – Ed!)
Incidentally, I’ve not branched out into the soft porn market! This image for the Hastings CPAP newsletter was to show that wearing a CPAP mask at night didn’t necessarily make a person less desirable - well, it works for me! (I'm not even going to go there! - Ed!)
Just noticed that the OnePhatDeafie cartoon has come out really small. Not sure why? I'll see if I can get it bigger. Strange, upped it to 700 pixels (which is bigger than all the other stuff on this site) and it still won't come up any larger. I am perplexed! Perhaps Sir Col the Editor has the answer?!
Bit confused by this new layout ... Got to remember that only the current month is showing above the comments now. OK I can do that, just a matter of finding my end in the edit box! Oh and as for comments, Jeni says to tell Bol that it's the pure Alpujarran fresh air down here. He's like a new man (she should be so lucky! - Ed) And thank you Col for the potty trained endorsement. I can now add that to my CV!
Following on from my cartoon about the Leonard Cheshire Foundation I’ve been sent some links to a couple of articles relating to same. They’re both on the old ‘Crip Stirring’ site that Clair Lewis used to run. The first is a poem by Karen Sheader called The Leonard Cheshire Cat. This is the link
The second is a whistle blowing account about skulduggery in the early days of the Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire camps. It’s purported to be written by an ex PC called Richard Card who was investigating alien registration at the time. If you’re into conspiracy theories this makes for a good read. Here is the link for that.
While I was looking at the Leonard Cheshire stuff I found these old cartoons by OnePhatDeafie. There’s not much around by Disabled people relating to hearing impairments issues so these are a breath of fresh air. Have a look on this link
(Hi PD, hope you don't mind but I had to alter the shape of the cartoon to fit this blog format and redo some of the line art and text 'cause the original had got a bit corrupted. If you read this, can you get in touch? I really love your stuff.)
Had a query about the DAO open forum and why it isn't instantly published? Well, the answer is that unfortunately – in common with a lot of websites – we got inundated with offensive rubbish and spam when it was an open forum, so it was changed to its present settings to avoid this. Hope this answers your query Pam.
Well the hardest part is coming up with the ideas, and this can either be a solo effort, or admitting defeat and saying to Jeni “got any ideas for this one?”. We find that we work well together in this respect, building on a vague idea and bouncing it around until we’ve got the finished thing. I then draft it out, perhaps changing some aspects of it, before sending off the roughs if it’s for a client. I sometimes get ideas from the client as well, which is great and cuts down the time quite a bit.
I try and keep up with current events with regard to disability issues and can often come up with something current for the Crippen web site. I also get emails from friends with ideas, or as a ‘heads up’ with regard to something just breaking (as in news). All this goes into the melting pot and usually emerges after a while as a new cartoon. Other blogs are also a good source of material.
I know that my style has changed a lot over the many years that I’ve been drawing cartoons. I’m less fussy than I used to be, and I now try to create bolder characters, with more simplistic lines. This has been mainly due to the use of a computer for my work, scanning in the basic drawing and then working it up using something like Adobe Photoshop. I did start with an art pad plugged into my computer, but discovered that I got on better with a mouse which I now use all of the time for drawing on the computer.
The advent of colour in my work has been surprisingly liberating for me and I no longer have to rely upon complicated cross-hatching and shadow lines to represent the subtle differences between surfaces. Now I can ‘paint’ in the colour for a character’s clothing for example, using a palette I’ve constructed of web safe colours.
The ability to ‘cut and paste’ characters from one cartoon to another; ‘rotating’ or ‘resizing’ them; reworking the individual details with the mouse; all of these facilities allow me to explore ways of creating different outcomes of an idea. I sometimes end up with several cartoons from an original idea in this way. It’s also great for creating crowd scenes from a few initial characters!
I’ll call that it for now. Don’t want to bore those who aren’t all that interested in the actual process of cartooning. Part 2 tomorrow perhaps?
Having had a few enquiries about how I create my cartoons; what software do I use, etc., I thought I’d share some of the process with you. This is the first part of that (I now expect Disabled cartoonists to be springing up all over the place!).
By the way, does anyone know what happened to the sculpture of Alison Lapper Pregnant? It has been replaced on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, but where has she gone? It was my understanding that she was there permanently. Any ideas folks?
Just had an email exchange with Colin (Editor) and we think that we might turn this blog journal around so that the most recent entry is at the beginning. Would certainly make it easier for you to see what's new without having to scroll down to the bottom every time (I think I'll let Col' sort the technical side out though!).
Hi Kevin, good to hear fom you. Glad you're enjoying the blog. Night all.
Have just posted up onto my web site this 'positive' equality cartoon relating to the new Equality and Human Rights Commission. There should be a balance now in the Equality folder between the pros and the cons around this issue. This should make a few of you happier!
Hopefully, from the debate that's started about this I'll get some more material to work with. I'll post up any new stuff as and when.
I've also been answering a few emails I got today from some Crips who stumbled across the Crippen web site and then the link to this blog. One from a guy in Italy who was seriously asking if it was OK to laugh at disability humour (?!). I should have pointed him at Marmiteboy! Also another email from a young woman in Tailand, who was trying to interest me in sending her my bank account details, so I don't think she really counts!
Another interesting life in the day of Crippen eh!
Okay ArtyFartyBoy, to respond to your comments about the fact that so many of the ‘characters’ in my cartoons are wheelchair users – when we all know (though the non-disabled community is still sometimes surprised by the statistic) that only around 5% of us Crips in the UK are full-time or virtually full-time wheelchair users. And by the way, before I forget, I promise that it wasn’t short term memory loss that caused me to delay in answering you, it’s just that I was looking for my socks!
Ay, ‘tis true, I agree, and it’s an observation that has been made to me before. I’m not going to get all defensive about it, don’t worry. If there are specific reasons, it’s maybe because it’s very much a part of my own past experience, and because – being the totally un-subtle guy that I am (as you know) – it has certainly been an easy, shorthand sort of a way of getting a message across quickly, especially to some non-disabled people. Okay, okay, I hear you say, ‘easy, shorthand’ might be interpreted as ‘lazy’. Oh dear. My head’s on the block here again isn’t it? (Gulp!)
You’re quite right in your underlying message that it’s not always helpful when we’re trying to get people to move away from the stereotypes. To be honest, it’s sometimes hard to depict the subtler aspects of impairment or social identity using the kind of crude, broad-brush style that is so characteristic of Crippen. Like I said earlier, Crippen doesn’t really do subtle … so perhaps there are some of you out there with hidden impairments who might have some ideas I could draw for you? (you can contact me via the Crippen web site – the link is at the top of the blog).
I’d add to this the fact that I am conscious that in the past my characters have been predominantly white, northern European types. I’m aware that this – and the wheelchair-user focus – doesn’t do justice to the diversity within our wonderful community of Cripdom. I hope that you’ll see that in my more recent splurge of offerings I am trying to address some of these issues.
Okay? Are we still friends, ArtyFartyBoy? I hope so! I really appreciate this kind of feedback as it makes for constructive dialogue and moving forward. Cheers!
OK, I can take a hint Fleur in comments! You mean cut down on the wittering and produce more cartoons (I'm just not appreciated, that's the problem ... mumble ... grumble... working my fingers to the bone here, and what do I get?! ... mumble ... sigh ... it is supposed to be a blog!)
(Oh my God. Someone's started him off on one! Never hear the end of this now! - Ed)
OK. More cartoons eh?! Back later ...(wanders off, still muttering) ... (a couple of hours or so later, sound of Crippen returning to the computer) ...There you go. At the speed of light, another collaboration between the good woman and myself - a cartoon for the Leonard Cheshire article above!
More comments I see, including another from our young friend Artyfartyboy as I predicted (who is that masked man?!). Thanks for your comments Richard and Gaz.It is strange how the Social Model can sometimes sneak up and bite you on the bum sometimes isn't it! And I am getting back to you AFboy. Patience, dear boy, patience.
For those of you who may have submitted comments and haven't yet seen them posted - well, we've had a bit of a problem with the system. Could we ask that you send them again if you don't see anything within the next few days. Sorry about that.
Unfortunately things tend to grind to a halt when multiple copies of the same comment are left on this blog (from the same sender that is). It means that other messages cannot get published during the time it takes poor Col' to clean all this excess off of the content management system. This can also cause some of the comments from other people to fail to get through to us. So please, just send the one comment once, and everyone will be happy. Thanks :-)