Sunday, May 12, 2013

Allison, Wreck It Ralph and PDDs

First I'd like to share with you the second Glister Journals piece drawn by a friend, comic artist Jeff Stokely, before he became famous and notorious (okay he's not exactly famous nor notorious beyond certain circles but he's working on it!) I love this drawing. This is closest to how I picture Allison (from my novel Bronze) and I love the way he has portrayed Robin too, though I don't see her quite this way. (The drawing of Dave and Chris is here.) What do you think?:

The Glister Journals: Allison and Robin

Jeff has been extremely busy and is working on two comics coming out this year, a reimagining of a classic pulp, Six Gun Gorilla, and his own (with co-writer/creator Chris Northrop) The Reason for Dragons which I am personally very excited about.

So, I finally saw Wreck It Ralph last night. It's not a movie that I would normally choose to watch, but I had heard about it when it came out from many kids that loved it. My daughter and her boyfriend just watched it last night and left it for me to watch too so I figured I had better make an effort. I have to admit that I wasn't at all interested in it and for the first half of the movie was wishing I was watching something else. But I persevered and I'm glad I did.

Now, I'm not going to list the reasons that I found the movie less than captivating. People have different tastes and this didn't appeal to me to start with. It really bothers me when people write reviews on books, films, whatever, that they wouldn't normally have read/watched and can't really find fault with but give negative reviews because they assumed it was something else (don't even get me started on assumptions) or just didn't like it for reasons outside the scope of what it is. Why do people do that? So I'm not going to say what I didn't like. If you like this kind of movie, you will probably love it.

This is a tongue-in-cheek 'behind the screens' promo that does not divulge much of the actual movie, but if you haven't seen it, you'll get the idea:

I will say that, though I felt 'meh' about all the characters from the beginning, Ralph himself, though completely predictable, did grow on me. But what I really sat up and took notice of was the character Vanellope. At first I couldn't stand her and not because she was obnoxious, but because she was so obviously meant to be too obnoxious so that you would have to like her later. The anti-princess. Ugh. But as I continued to watch, it began to occur to me that this throw-away child was like the neuro-atypical people I see every day. How she was like my character Allison Anderson from Bronze. And, apparently, like me.

Now Allison is quiet and introspectiv--not in-your-face obnoxious like Vanellope--nor is she homeless and lacking in personal hygiene. But that 'glitch' that keeps Vanellope from being accepted by the other kids--along with having very different ideas of what is attractive, valuable, and funny (not to mention questionable powers of self-assessment and style sense)--is what sets kids diagnosed with PDDs (pervasive developmental disorders) apart. It is also often what gives them heightened sensory perception and out-of-the-box creativity which Vanellope displays beautifully (her ability to see what others cannot, creative approach to problems, etc.) She is not just a quirky character that marches to the beat of a different drummer. I think a lot of 'normal' people like to think of themselves that way too.

No, there is something different about her; something in her code, her genetic make up and neural programming. This is PDD. This is what is at work with people with autism spectrum disorders. It is not something they control or choose and it does not necessarily affect their intelligence or ability to take care of themselves and others. It does often make it very hard to interact with other people, react in socially accepted ways, and cope with sensory overload. I don't know if that's what the writers had in mind but if you've seen the movie or watch it now, I'd be interested to know what you think.

*Small Spoiler Alert* I think the thing I loved most about the character in the movie was at the end, when she becomes accepted by the others (the reasons which I'm not going to analyze too deeply right now.) At first she appears to become a princess, as if she has completely changed and is 'normal' like all the others. PSYCH! Nope, she's just the same as she was, glitch and all. I LOVE THAT! If you are a person with ASD/PDD, you cannot magically be changed. There's no 'cure'. Why should we want one? We aren't 'wrong' or broken, just different.

I will leave you with a song and video I would otherwise never subject you to, but I love it. (Metaphors aside, whether this song is appropriate in a children's movie is also beyond the scope of what I want to deal with here!):

Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister Journals info and chapters at the book's website here:

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

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