Adrean Clark. The author/artist describes 8 Ways to be Deaf as "the story of a gas station attendant who meets a Deaf woman and takes extraordinary measures to win her. His only problem -- he's his own worst enemy". And, it is FUNNY! If you know me, I laugh a great deal but usually at myself... rarely do I laugh out loud when reading anything. Half way through this comic, I almost stopped to email Adrean because it was that funny. That being said, I am thrilled to introduce readers, young and old, to this story of a hearing guy Paul who goes through numerous attempts to win the heart of Deaf Character Linda. And not to give away too much of the plot but the ASL instructor Ms. Peterson and the interpreter are both hysterical... but maybe that's just because that's how I felt when I learned ASL. I believe this comic is appropriate for middle school up based on content and reading level; however, it will resonate with anyone who has tried to win the affection of another.
Another exciting thing about 8 Ways to be Deaf is that you can buy it online through an eBook download for as cheap as $1.99; however, if you'd rather hold the comic in your hand (and not just on your iPad), a print edition will be available in August.
****************Read my interview with Adrean Clark below**************
SP: How did you become a comic book author?
AC: Becoming a comic author didn't happen overnight. The story of 8 Ways to be Deaf started in January of this year - I had been making comics for quite a while and was tired of being too afraid to try something bigger. So I took the plunge and announced on my blog that I would be doing a full comic book and posting pages 5 days a week. It took several months but as you can see, we survived it. This technique probably isn't for everyone -- I've been working for a long time on my craft. There's still a lot more work left for me to do with improving my skills, but I enjoy learning and telling stories as I go along.
SP: What inspired you to write 8 Ways to be Deaf? Do you know anyone like Paul? Or perhaps, have you experienced what Linda experienced?
AC: 8 Ways to be Deaf actually started as an orphan title. My DeafBlind husband and I own Clerc Scar, a publishing company, and 8 Ways to be Deaf was a potential title for one of our books. Even after it was rejected it had too much promise to be abandoned and the story of a bumbling hearing man trying to be Deaf came to mind. Comic ideas can come in strange ways!
I came to ASL and Deaf Culture later in my childhood. I can remember wanting very badly to fit in with my new Deaf friends after transferring to the Central North Carolina School for the Deaf in eighth grade. I wanted ASL to drip from my awkward hands, so I could measure up to them. It took a long time before I felt confident in my signing skills. I can identify with Paul in that way.
On the other side of the counter, I've also been accosted by well-meaning hearing people. Those encounters tend to be awkward and ones I try to escape as quickly as possible. Linda probably has more courage than I do, returning to the same gas station as part of her morning routine!SP: On your website, you write, "My goal with comics is to make our community’s experiences accessible to the mainstream — visual art is powerful!" What do you hope that readers will learn or take away from the comic books?
AC: My husband John is also a writer (author of Deaf American Poetry at GU Press), and he says he keeps no expectations for the reader. I agree, but I do hope readers come away with an idea of how it feels on both sides of the gas-station counter. I hope that chuckling at Paul's misadventures will help hearing people see that approaching Deaf people with a respect for their culture and language is important, no matter what mistakes are made. The point is to keep trying and improving. Who knows what that will bring?
SP: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your comics or creating their own for the first time?
AC: My advice for young aspiring artists is to keep drawing. Making comics is hard work, and if it's something you truly enjoy and feel energized by -- you will work through all the frustrations and joys it brings. There's a saying that for every awesome drawing there's 10,000 lousy drawings. It's not so hard if you had fun doing it all.
School won't teach you that, it comes from within yourself. Think of classes as one resource out of many for your goal, and take advantage of that. Don't be afraid to keep learning in as many ways as you can - through books, experienced pros, and so on. This applies to any career, not just comics.SP: Anything you would like to add?
AC: 8 Ways to be Deaf is not my only book. I also have another book, The Census Taker and Other Deaf Humor. It's actually all text with no funny pictures, but a good read, I hope! Both 8 Ways and The Census Taker are available at http://8ways.adreanaline.com and in the Apple iBookstore. (Please do leave a review, I appreciate all feedback!)
Some other Deaf cartoonists you all might enjoy are Matt Daigle, Shawn Richardson, Maureen Klusza, Kendra Harness, Dan McClintock, and Paul Guo. Their work appears in SIGNews and in the Deaf Cartoonists Showcase book at my website. http://www.adreanaline.com/blog/archive/free-comic-book-day/