No Life Lessons Here: Comics, Autism, and Empathetic Scholarship

Sarah Birge


Comics, a relatively understudied medium for representations of disability, have enormous potential for providing important critical perspectives in disability studies. This article examines two recent comics that portray individuals with autism: The Ride Together by Paul and Judy Karasik and Circling Normal, a compilation of the comic strip Clear Blue Water by Karen Montague-Reyes. I argue that these comics’ unique narrative geometries make them ideally suited for depicting cognitive disabilities in the nuanced context of embodied life. Through their reworking of stereotypes and their unique portrayals of autism, Circling Normal and The Ride Together demonstrate the power of comics to rewrite (and redraw) traditional scripts of cognitive disability and break the confining cultural framework through which some people are seen and others overlooked.


autism, comics, representation, cognitive disability, empathy


autism; comics; representation; cognitive disability; empathy

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Copyright (c) 2010 Sarah Birge

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