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You know you're a comics geek when... 
29th-Sep-2008 04:44 pm
Today was disability awareness training as part of my Learning Volunteer experience, but also as part of my personal enrichment drive. It was reallyhelpful in a lot of ways and I feel like a better person. We'll see how long that lasted.

The first exercise was, predictably a brainstorming personal experience and public opinion session, which included "List disabled characters you can think of from fiction."

You're reading my journal. I'm sure I don't need to tell you quite how important I think fictional portrayals of - anythingis to public understanding, right? I might have that post in me, but does anyone need it? It's me, my subject of passion is the relationship between fiction and reality. I could go on for pages about how disabled characters (and female characters, characters of colour, transgender characters, gay characters...) are important.

No points for guessing to whom belonged the first name on my lips.

Um, this is the only scan I had pre-uploaded that had the chair.

"I don't know who that is," said pretty much everyone.

"She used to be Batgirl," I explained. "Before she was shot and put into a wheelchair."

"Oh yeah,the commissioner's daughter... wait, used to be Batgirl?"

"Yeah, well, she couldn't carry on with the acrobatics, so now she's a whole different kind of hero, from her chair. She's like - a superlibrarian."

Half the room - the half filled with librarians, predictably - erupted with glee, but we couldn't talk for that long.

It's sad, really sad that Oracle is not well known in the mainstream media, because she's that awesome, and fantastic and amazing. Someone asked me to source this character for them, and I'm tempted because of how excited these non-comics people were to know that there's a character like Babs in existence. It wasn't mentioned the rest of the day, so it's possible they forgot.

I know there's a bazillion and one resources out there on the big ol' wide internet re: Babs, but it occured to me that maybe I could write up a post detailing her background for the DC illiterate, which would form the basis for an email to those librarians if they're really interested.

29th-Sep-2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I *really* want to learn more about Oracle, she seems so cool.
29th-Sep-2008 03:42 pm (UTC)
*opens up GDocs*

Well - not now, but I will certainly stick a 'beginners guide to Oracle' on my 'to write' list.
29th-Sep-2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Wow. I had heard of Oracle, but I didn't realize she used to be Batgirl. But I acquire all of my comic knowledge via osmosis, mostly.
29th-Sep-2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she stopped being Batgirl shortly before the Joker crippled her (in The Killing Joke). The irony is that the Joker had no idea she was Batgirl.
29th-Sep-2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Babs is completely awesome, of course, but I find personally that people do know who she is outside of comics fandom. Even my manager at work, who doesn't read comics and knows nothing about them, once asked me about Babs - he already knew that she was a doubleplusgood hacker.

Daredevil, Hawkeye, Echo, Dr. Mid-Nite, Charles Xavier, Nick Fury, Stephen Strange, Forge, Black Crow, and Cyborg all count as fictional characters with disabilities. There are a surprising number of superheroes that function with disabilities from minor to major - amputations, impaired senses, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, etc. That's one thing that I've always enjoyed about the genre.

Edit: whoops, I forgot supervillains. Like the new Mysterio. To list them all would take at least twenty four hours. Oh, and Deadpool! Don't forget about Deadpool.

Edited at 2008-09-29 15:51 (UTC)
29th-Sep-2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
Daredevil and Prof X also came up, suggested by other people (I'd feel a total nerd mentioning the Doctors Mid-Nite.) The thing about some superheroes, Daredevil being the most obvious thing, is that his blindness isn't a disability (forgive me if my Marvel ignorance is showing, I'm working with what I know), because he has his superspecial other senses making up for it, in the same way that Toph's blindness doesn't actually prevent her from 'seeing' anything three dimensional. Barbara's inability to walk - and more relevant, her aquisition of the disability does make her stand out as special. And not in that way.

ETA against your ETA: I always forget about Deadpool. I like Deathstrike too much.

Edited at 2008-09-29 15:56 (UTC)
29th-Sep-2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Barbara's inability to walk - and more relevant, her aquisition of the disability does make her stand out as special. And not in that way.

I'd personally argue that being born with a disability is just as legitimate as the acquisition of a disability, and that to separate out by degree of disability or judge one disability as somehow more legitimate than another doesn't really serve a good function or purpose. There are degrees of disabilities, but so often people with more minor disabilities feel just as disenfranchised as people with major disabilities. I'd also argue that Matt's blindness does impair his functioning, and his disability was acquired - he wasn't born blind. It also depends on how you define "function." I'd say Babs functions on a high level if you look at her life holistically, and so does Matt. But that's a central and longrunning theme of superheroes with disabilities - these are people who fight to prevail and who fight to live their lives despite having lost eyes, limbs, movement, cognitive ability, etc.

And believe me, Matt's super senses have proven to be his downfall on plenty of occasions. The fact that he functions at all is due to years of training and sheer willpower. Imagine living in a world where your neighbor sneezing on the other side of your kitchen wall literally can cause you to pass out from sensory overload.
(Deleted comment)
30th-Sep-2008 03:21 am (UTC)
Yay, someone remembered Doom Patrol! Danny the Street with his frilly curtains!
29th-Sep-2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
XD! YAY! Spreading the Babs love! PS. I want more Babs stuff to read. Tell me which stories is good! Or something!
29th-Sep-2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
Birds of Prey (I know where you can find stuff) primarily. Nightwing as well.
29th-Sep-2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
You should do that post.

Also, that is one of my fave exchanges ever, on that image.
29th-Sep-2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
My first pick would've been Alt (of Cyberpunk), but I guess being uploaded into cyberspace & having your flesh&blood disposed off isn't quite what they mean.

But I guess she's a pretty good pick, one of relatively few superheroes/heroines who don't have abilities that negate their disabilities, but actually have to work around it (The Affleck, to take one example, only seems to be troubled by disability as a cover (or as a plot-device) ).
29th-Sep-2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Do you mind if I spring-board? I've been trying recently - well, on and off over the last two years - to write romantic leads who are registered disabled every so often. It's hard mainly because I panic and worry that I'm going to get shouted at for being horrifically offensive or stereotypical or just WRONG.
29th-Sep-2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Why should I mind you springboarding off Babs? I know I have a character who's very Oracle-esque (she's blind), and I think there should be more disabled characters, definitely.
29th-Sep-2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I meant discussion-wise. ;) So far I've only Frankie Hao Lin, who is partially deaf and quite a charming girl (not my usual female lead at all), and Suchin Meesang, who is A Person Of Restricted Growth (or in her words "a fucking midget") and terrifying and antagonistic and amoral and incredibly good fun to write.
29th-Sep-2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course you can! Sounds interesting?
29th-Sep-2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
I mean, do you get nervous about writing characters who are outside of your field of personal experience? Do you worry that someone's going to be angry with you for Doin' It Wrong?
29th-Sep-2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh hell yes. I worry about it with disabled characters, with non-white characters, with male characters and with characters who are other than bisexual monogamous cissexuals. My attitude is to try and research the hell out of it and figure the characterisation from experiences up.

I disagree with people who say that white able bodied cissexuals should only write about white able bodied cissexuals. We have too many of those characters already.
29th-Sep-2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Very true, and that would massively limit me as characters kind of of ARE who they are when they turn up - I can't imagine writing Chris Freeman as anyone other than a closeted gay black man from Washington DC, I can't imagine writing Sorka as any different to the person he is because ... I dunno, it's part of who they are? I just have to hope that people don't hate me for it.

Weirdly, it's white able bodied cissexuals whose judgement I feel I am most likely to incur and whose displeasure I feel like I'm courting regardless of what I write.
29th-Sep-2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Fuck 'em. What do we know about anything anyway?
29th-Sep-2008 06:03 pm (UTC)

... I know I like writing about people wearing dog collars?

After the length of today that's genuinely about ALL I know.
29th-Sep-2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Is it terrible if the first ones I thought of were Timmy and Jimmy from South Park?
30th-Sep-2008 01:07 am (UTC)


Yay, spreading the Babs love!
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