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Deaf Culture - Comic Strips and Cartoons

The Funny Side of Hearing Loss


Updated: April 09, 2009

Old Fogeys cartoon

Old Fogeys

David Pierce
Some deaf artists choose to express their thoughts about hearing loss through the medium of humor -- comic strips and cartoons. Over the years, deaf and hard of hearing print publications such as the now-defunct Silent News have featured comic strips and cartoons by deaf artists.

I do not know if any compilation of deaf comic strips from the past have ever been published. A search of the Gallaudet University library catalog turned up the book Cartoon characters (in sign language) but there was no description of the book's contents.

European Deaf Comics

In Britain, a deaf cartoonist (Len Hodson) whose works were published in the British Deaf News has published a book, Cartoons and Comic Strips on Deaf Humour (and non-deaf humour).

Older Deaf Comics Still Online

A few deaf cartoonists have published their past print work online, but their sites have closed down and the work which is still on their servers, may disappear. For example, Tamara Davidson had a website on deaf cartoons, but has closed it down (some of the pages may be available through the Internet Archive, at http://web.archive.org/web/*/deafcartoons.homestead.com/*). Davidson published the following cartoons, some of which are decades old:
  • On the Deaf Side
  • JoJo
  • A Deaf Girl Scout
  • Windrider
Another deaf cartoon still online that may vanish, is Darby the Hearing Dog. Plus, ASLStamp.com published a short-lived deaf comic book, Pah-Champ. This comic was published in 2002, and the picture is still on the website. Unfortunately, the Pah-Champ page seems to be a forgotten, orphan page; it probably would be necessary to contact ASLStamp.com to find out if any copies are left.

Deaf and HOH Webcomics

The web is giving birth to more deaf comic strips. Just as in the hearing world where webcomics are catching on, the deaf community is developing its own webcomics. Some of the most popular deaf comic strip artists of years past are moving to the web. For example, Signews.org has a comic strip section that includes the work of Shawn Richardson, my favorite deaf cartoonist from the print era. Richardson is profiled in the book Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary, from DawnSignPress, and was featured in a World Around You article, "Art and Comment."

The website DeafJoke.tv has cartoon and comic strip sections. One of the highest rated cartoons is one about a sign language interpreter.

One of the newer deaf cartoonists is David Pierce, who writes and draws the Old Fogeys. This strip has built its own following; according to Pierce's website, earlier collections of the Old Fogeys are sold out. Fans can catch newer ones on the Old Fogeys section on the DeafDigest site. I especially liked the one that poked fun at the high demand for video relay interpreters.

Some deaf cartoonists are setting up cartoon blogs. One of them is Dan McClintock. Another blog is DeafJoke.TV, which has a popular cartoons category that reprints newspaper strips with deafness and also showcases original comic strip work by deaf cartoonists around the world.

Finally, I found a comic strip that is not a true comic strip, but its content and humor made it worthy of inclusion in this article -- Lily and Otto, which was online at HearingFocus.com, but the site seems to have gone away.

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