Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Graphic artist with spina bifida to illustrate next Doctor Who comic book series

From The Coventry Telegraph in the UK. (I recommend his compelling graphic memoir about his life with spina bifida, The Spiral Cage.)

Graphic artist Al Davison (pictured) who was told he wouldn’t survive a severe illness has been chosen to illustrate a new series of Doctor Who comic books.

Al, who was born with spina bifida, has already illustrated and co-wrote a two-part comic called Silver Scream which will be published in America.

The 48-year-old was approached by writer and friend Tony Lee at an arts show who offered him the job to work on the next 12 issues, but has been sworn to secrecy about what the future books will entail.

But it hasn’t been easy for him. The self-taught artist, of Humber Avenue, Stoke, Coventry, spent two years in an isolation unit shortly after he was born to avoid the risk of infection. He had 21 operations by the time he was eight.

His remarkable passion to draw began at the tender age of two after being given crayons and he started drawing comic strips before he could even speak.

At 18, he did some illustrating for a martial arts magazine and over the past 30 years has worked on titles for DC Comics, creators of Superman.

Al owns book shop Astral Gypsy, in the Canal Basin, with his wife, Maggie, aged 58, where he has been teaching kids the art of comic strips for the past five years.

He said: “The illness is not something given to you to punish you in any way but it’s to make you stronger. Being born with a disability is not a bad thing – without it I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

“I feel fortunate to be able to draw. I always say it’s something I was born to do – I didn’t chose to be an artist. It chose me. I’ve just come along for the ride.

“I want to show people what I’m capable of as someone who’s disabled and to just celebrate it.”

His best-known work is a graphic novel called the Spiral Cage, an autobiographical account of growing up with the spinal condition that has left him dependent on a wheelchair. He is currently working on the second instalment.