VODKA O’CLOCK 1507
ROBYN SEALE TALKS ABOUT WORKING WITH A DISABILITY IN COMICS
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ROBYN SEALE joined me on Vodka O’Clock to discuss comic books, art, modeling, and ableism, particularly the invisibility of illnesses that give content creators privilege they may not be aware of.
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Robyn has the fancy job title in her day job of being in Strategic Communications which basically is the creative side of marketing. She makes comics as well. Plus, she’s a creator who loves to see cosplay. She openly talks about how she had to step back from doing comic conventions in order to address her health concerns: fibromyalgia and mental health.
Diversity in comics doesn’t only mean “add female characters” or “add non-white characters” as was seen in the hashtag on Twitter #NonIdentiKit. There, artists were addressing that they can fall under pressures of deadlines and forget to make faces and bodies different. When all you see different are hair color, it’s the sort of visual cue that the artist is only addressing one body type.
Robyn suffers from migraines onset by her fibromyalgia. They can caused temporary blindness. From that, she ends up facing depression and anxiety because she’s unable to work on her art.
“For a long time, it was very survival based.” ~RB
She had to conquer the perception of being not sick enough because her illnesses are invisible, while still trying to make it known that she does require special considerations at work.
The way people with illness have to exist and try to hide their conditions is not unlike the duality of superheroes and their secret identities. Robyn said she’d love for more comics to address what hiding key aspect of oneself would do to a character like Batman.
As far as finding a comic book character that she can relate to, Robyn found the most comfort in BIRDS OF PREY and their leader Oracle. She said helping other people and seeing the capacity Oracle could assist, without being physical like the rest of her team, was reflective of her personal experiences. Other characters, like Dr. Gregory House and Adrian Monk, had writers who made their mental illnesses an advantage. This brought up the discussion about whether writers have ethical responsibility about how their characters come across to the audience.
“There is [sic] a lot of times you are not responsible for what other people feel about your work. Flat out. Like you don’t have control over their emotions. You are not responsible for their feelings.” ~RS
The insensitivity of how a writer makes a villain act is not the same as how they should make a good guy act.
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