Blast from the past
Whilst I’ve been sorting my galleries of cartoons during this web site update, I’ve come across lots of cartoons that I created way back at the start of my adventures as Crippen.The one heading this post, called ‘Captain Pratt’ made his first appearance back in the early nineties, personifying those mindless non-disabled people who raised money for the handicapped (sic) by taking part in such fund raising events as swimming in custard etc.
Their very existence relies upon their portraying us Crips as being unable to fend for ourselves and dependent upon hand outs from a patronising public. Regrettably Captain Pratt and his ilk are still around today, usually beneath the banner of a so called disability charity, with not a single disabled person in sight!
Here’s a short recap for each of the cartoons that follow in the attached gallery. Believe me, it was difficult limiting the gallery to just six cartoons, but in the end I decided that less is more …
The one I called ‘The Expert’ was first published in Disability Arts In London (DAIL) magazine in 1990 by the Editor Kit Wells. He must have realised what he was doing because it brought in a flood of correspondence, both for and against, which propelled Crippen into the lime light and the rest, as they say, is history.
This cartoon was then used at various disability equality training sessions that I was involved with, and appeared in other publications around that time. However, it got its biggest roar of approval at an event run by Leonard Cheshire who, not knowing me well enough back then, had invited me to show some of my work to its resident’s who were attending one of their so called ‘inclusion’ events. I’ve been on their black list ever since I’m proud to say!
The ‘Feet’ cartoon was created in 2001 as a bit of a dig against the perception that disability art was all about chocolate box pictures being created with the brush being held in either the disabled artist’s foot or mouth. Disability Arts On-line (DAO) ran this one which stirred up quite a bit of comment amongst disabled artists, especially from those who do paint using this method.
Unfortunately, for most of the general population, disability art is still seen as ‘therapy’, whereas for most disabled artists, we embrace our art as a vital tool with which we can express our frustration at the barriers that are still very firmly in place within the mainstream arts arena.
The polling station cartoon was one of several that I produced around the same time supporting a move by disabled people’s organisations to make polling stations more accessible. It’s still often used in access seminars as an indicator of the tokenism that often prevails around addressing and then removing the barriers that disable us still to this day. Physical and environmental barrier cartoons are obviously easier to portray than some of the other barriers, such as Institutional and Organisational barriers.
However, I do now have a file of cartoons addressing most of the barriers that disable us from a full participation in society, including a few cartoon strips. Please contact me if you would like to use these in your own presentations.
As various people began to jump ship from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2009, this cartoon focused on two disabled stalwarts, Jane Campbell and Bert Massey of the former Disability Rights Commission, who were still hanging on in there. Jane is now Baroness Campbell of Surbiton and is in the thick of the fight in the House of Lords against the proposals to change the legislation regarding so called mercy killings. Sir Bert is now on the board of Motability but keeps himself involved in the continuing fight for disabled people’s rights.
The President Karzie cartoon was commissioned in 2008 by a disabled Afghanistan journalist who was writing about the plight of disabled people in his country. He didn’t tell me until after I’d created the cartoon for him that his usual cartoonist had been arrested for expressing anti government sentiments. Fortunately I seem to have slipped under the radar and haven’t yet had a knock on the door in the dead of night!
Note: All of the cartoons on this web site have a text description linked to them for those people using a screen reader.
Left click on these cartoons for a text description for those people using ‘text to voice’ software