Dan White couldn’t find a character anywhere in the media that his daughter Emily, who uses a wheelchair, could relate to. Emily was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spine and nerves.
White eventually noticed there were some characters in wheelchairs, but he none who he felt really showcased disabilities in a way children of all abilities to admire. So, he decided to illustrate his own set of characters — ones who use their disabilities as their superpowers.
“I wanted a broad range of diverse characters that would be unique, original and be fun for all kids to look [to] and emulate,” White told The Mighty in an email. “[The characters] show the wider world that disability can be a power, that it’s easy for disability to be mainstream without being frightening or misunderstood.”
The characters, who are all part of what White calls the “Department of Ability,” include Emily, an alien, a ghost and two animals. They all use what makes them different to their advantage. Pawsy the cheetah has a prosthetic leg, which helps him outrun everyone he meets, and Emily has a multi-functional airborne wheelchair. Her catchphrase is “Eat my wheels.”
White quit his job to focus on the “Department of Ability” full time. Right now, he’s working with charities in the U.K., such as Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust, to distribute the comic once it’s done (hopefully in 2016). In the future, White hopes the “Department of Ability” characters will go global, and he wants to turn the comic book into a television show.
You can watch the Whites’ interview with the BBC.
More from The Mighty: