Franky Banky in A World That Understands Stuttering (Daniele Rossi)

About the author: Daniele Rossi lives in Toronto, Canada and stuttered since he was four years old. Daniele produces the Stuttering is Cool podcast and authored a stuttering survival book of the same name with comics featuring Franky Banky, a fox that stutters. In 2011, he co-founded Stutter Social, an online community facilitating group video chats for people who stutter and regularly appears on radio and TV programs to spread awareness about stuttering. Daniele is an adjunct board member of the Canadian Stuttering Association and draws Franky Banky comics for the Association des bègues du Canada. In his spare time, Daniele enjoys strength training, astronomy, collecting vinyl records, planning his next travel adventure, and working on his next Franky Banky book.

When I read that the theme for this year’s online conference was announced as being “a world that understands stuttering”, I immediately thought of how it’s up to us, the people who stutter, to spread awareness. No one else is going to do it for us because people who don’t stutter simply don’t know what it’s like to grow up and live with stuttering every day. Nobody else but us stutterers understand the hardships, embarrassing situations, emotionally scarring challenges, and the discrimination that we face. We are the only ones who know full well that stuttering isn’t a psychological issue, a breathing problem, or a memory issue causing us to forget our own names.

That’s why stuttering still sucks even though it’s 2017. The world simply needs more awareness. When The King’s Speech came out in theatres seven years ago, stuttering communities around the world were elated that stuttering was brought into the mainstream. However, one Oscar-winning movie all those years ago just isn’t enough.

Fortunately, each and every one of us has the opportunity to spread awareness each and every time we encounter a well-meaning “fluenter”. If you build up your comfort level to tell people you stutter and educate when the moment strikes, you can do your part in spreading a little awareness one person at a time.

I know it may sound daunting to stutter openly, tell someone you stutter, or even bring up the subject, but you’d be surprised at how often people will understand and accept you as you are. In fact, in the early days of my podcast, Stuttering is Cool, when I asked fluenters if they had any questions about stuttering, I was amazed at how common it was for someone to share that they knew someone who stutters. And people are curious to learn more about the phenomenon. “I was watching this TV show where someone stutters except when he sings!”

Some of the scenarios depicted in the comic above are based on true events. Starting from the top, Franky Banky ends up getting two tuna fish sandwiches – this actually happened to a few people who submitted stories to The Lighter Side page on Judy Kuster’s Stuttering Homepage. I don’t know if the people in real life corrected their order so they didn’t have to pay more than they had originally planned, but if they did, imagine the impact on the order taker. Future customers with a stutter could benefit, or upon their return to the restaurant. Of course, having to correct a food order is awkward regardless of fluency level!

The second and third comics where Franky Banky is asked if he forgot his name and advised to breathe happened to me many times in my life, especially when I was a kid. No one tells a heart patient to remember to keep their heart beating. All those times I was asked if I forgot my name, I just stood there stunned and humiliated. Nowadays I simply say “No, I just stutter” and enjoy their awkward moment as they realise what just happened! Not that I’m vindictive, but I admit it’s a little guilty pleasure of mine. But I’m understanding and good natured about it.

The fourth comic where Franky Banky is hoping the job interviewer won’t discriminate towards his stuttering is autobiographical as well. No matter how relaxed I am about my stuttering, this is still a concern during job interviews. There is only so much I can do to control my speech and I truly have no control over other people’s impressions. In any case, job interviews are daunting no matter someone’s fluency level.

The fifth comic where Franky Banky is asked if he speaks French, Italian, etc., happened to a friend of mine in a souvenir shop in Montreal last winter. We both saw the humour in the fact that the well-meaning shop owner interacted with many foreign tourists all day, every day, so not being able to speak a certain language was his natural assumption. Neither my friend nor I advertised or educated that time though. It’s a pity because the shop owner could have applied the knowledge for future foreign tourists who stutter. Who knows, maybe he saw The King’s Speech seven years ago and didn’t make the connection. Actually, regardless of fluency level or knowledge of a language, no one should be interrupted in mid-sentence.

The sixth comic where a police officer mistakes Franky Banky’s stuttering as a sign of being drunk or stoned didn’t happen to me (but like job interviews, I worry that they may misinterpret my stuttering) but I’ve come across many such stories in newspapers.

The seventh comic is based on what happened to student Kylah Simmons who was detained in customs at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport last year because border security misinterpreted her stuttering as suspicious and a sign of dishonesty. In spite of the fact that Kylah explained that she stuttered, she was detained for about an hour and missed her connecting flight.

So, as you can see, if we want to live in a world that understands stuttering, then it is truly a benefit for each one of us to work on becoming comfortable with stuttering openly and talking about our speech with the people around us and who we encounter. A few success stories include:

  • My friend Anita Blom comments on media articles about stuttering posted to Facebook. She also wears awareness bracelets and buttons (like the ones I make!) as conversation pieces
  • My friend, David Friedman, created and distributed an I Stutter lapel pin to make it easier for people who stutter to bring up the topic in conversations in the workplace and at industry events.
  • Comedians and personal friends of mine Jody Fuller, Nina G, Jason Walther, and Brian Woo, to name a few, use their stuttering in their comedy to spread awareness and humour.
  • In recent years, many independent filmmakers who stutter created documentaries and short films about stuttering such as the multi-award winning The Way We Talk by Michael Turner.
  • Kylah shared her experiences with various media outlets, launched a social media awareness campaign, and created a stuttering identification card with the Stuttering Foundation of America.

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Comments

Franky Banky in A World That Understands Stuttering (Daniele Rossi) — 61 Comments

  1. Hi Daniele! I really liked and agree with what you said at the end of your post about stuttering openly and talking about it openly – I think this is the best way to educate fluent speakers, like myself. I would like to add, though, that I believe it is up to fluent speakers to educate other fluent speakers about what we understand about stuttering, to advocate, and to be allies. It is hard to imagine what it’d be like to be in some of the situations you’ve presented in your comic, like a police officer assuming that you are under the influence because you stutter. Or to worry about not landing a job position because you stutter. The more education that’s out there, the more these incidents should disappear! Although I wish they didn’t happen in the first place. This post was really insightful and opened up scenarios that were not even on my radar as a fluent speaker, so thank you for that. Great post.

    • Thanks I.foss91! You’re right, fluent allies would make things even better. And thanks for fluents like you, we have one more 😉

  2. Hi Daniele! Great post! I am a SLP graduate student in a fluency class right now and I love learning new ways to support PWS and gaining a bit of insight into their world. The comic strips are awesome and are a creative way to show the rest of the world some of the situations that PWS may encounter. I really like how you talked about the opportunity to spread awareness about stuttering one person at a time every time a PWS “encounters a well-meaning fluenter.” What would you say to someone who does not stutter about positioning ourselves to be advocates and allies of PWS? When a PWS needs support regarding their stutter, what advice or words of support can I offer? Thank you in advance for your insight!

    • Those are great questions, Abigail. To answer your first question about how someone who doesn’t stutter can position themselves to be advocates/allies of those of us who stutter – my recommendation is to share the papers, maybe volunteer at a stuttering association in your country, and most of all, give us the time we need to say what we need to say 🙂

      To answer your second question on the kind of advice you can give to a PWS – I’d say tell them they aren’t alone, they are more than their stuttering, they have so many other talents that will shine, and to meet others who stutter. That’s the cool part; when you meet others who stutter and share the same unique experiences you do. Suddenly, you have a whole community of support and cool people to coach you.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for your compliments on my post. It’s a labour of love.

  3. Hello Daniele,
    I was invited by ABC last year and your buttons are among my best souvenirs from Canada 🙂
    I fully agree when you write : “No one else is going to do it for us because people who don’t stutter simply don’t know what it’s like to grow up and live with stuttering every day.” I promote the same idea in my paper for this ISAD 2017.
    Your comics bring something special and unique to spread the word and make the world understand stuttering. Longue vie à Franky !

    • Merci Laurent ! I’m happy to ready that my buttons are among your favourite souvenirs. Even the maple syrup? 😉 I’ve read and enjoyed your paper very much (I just didn’t have a chance yet to comment) and saw that great minds think alike. It is true though, the fact that it’s up to the people who understand a unique experience such as stuttering to jump start (and continue) awareness. Especially when there are myths and fraudsters selling expensive “cures” or “secret therapies”.

      More Franky Banky comics in the future! And if you’re a member of the ABC, look out for Branky Banky et Bilodo comics in their newsletter.

  4. Hello Daniele,

    I truly enjoyed your comics and the story behind them! While reading it I was wondering how you grew to be comfortable with telling other people that you stuttered? Was this something that you overcame yourself or was there a specific clinician or therapy technique that helped you get to this point? I know someone who stutters but prefers to avoid the topic or not let others know of the stutter. I was hoping you might have advice on how to help them become more comfortable with sharing their stutter? Thank you in advance!

    • Thanks Stef! I grew to be comfortable with telling other people that I stuttered by meeting others who stuttered and had lots of confidence about it. It’s exactly what I needed in my life. I was tired of playing all those mental games trying to pass myself off as fluent. So once I learned that stuttering wasn’t my fault and not shameful, my journey to complete openness began.

      Since then, I’ve come to meet many, many stutterers and I always feel a tremendous amount of joy when I witness a shy, covert stutterer grow into a confident person even more over zealous about stuttering than me! 🙂 Once in a while, I meet a person who really, really doesn’t want to stutter, or associate themself with anyone who stutters. To be honest, I haven’t learned how to help encourage them take small steps out of their speaking comfort zones to experience how much stuttering doesn’t have to be shameful. But I have no control over how someone else feels.

      My go-to suggestions are attending a support group meeting, interacting with other PWS on Facebook groups, participating in a Stutter Social hangout as starters so they can meet others who stutter who got married, or found the same job they want. Once you see others who stutter just like you living the lives they want, it’s hard not to be motivated yourself 🙂

  5. Hi Daniele,
    Great paper! Yes, it’s up to us to educate the others. Laurent emphasized this point in his paper, too, and it’s excellent that you are encouraging us to take personal responsibility for creating A World that Understands Stuttering. Thanks a lot.

  6. Daniele,
    I really enjoyed reading your comic and blog. It is such an innovative way to portray the difficulties of stuttering that people of all ages can look at and enjoy, but more importantly relate to. As a future Speech Language Pathologist, and someone who doesn’t stutter, what advice do you have for someone who does stutter about the difficulties faced growing up, and the best way to handle them especially at a young age? Thanks so much!
    Mary

    • Thanks for enjoying my work, Mary! It’s a labour of love. There are so many things I’d say to kids who stutter: stutterimh isn’t bad, it only takes us a little bit longer to say what we need to say; what we have to say is as important as everyone else; stuttering is just something we do; we have so many other awesome talents; anyone who laughs at our stuttering has something wrong with them; there are so many more people who like us AND our stuttering; everyone is different — some people have red hair, black hair, brown hairs blonde hair, white hair, blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, play sports well, do math well, can draw well, can sing well, can play video games well, can create apps — we all have different qualities and this makes everyone interesting including you!

  7. Thank you very much in adding your art to express how many of us feel and experiences we have encountered. Art is important to give people who stutter movement to change how general public views stuttering.
    Kindly,
    Michael

    • I agree, Michael. Having a creative outlet is also important for pws for many reasons including it feels good and it’s a great way to communicate with the world in a different way.

  8. Hi Daniele,

    I think it is awesome that you have found such a creative way to express the struggles of people who stutter. As a person who does not stutter, I do not feel as if I will ever be able to understand the feeling of going through life stuttering so I greatly appreciate work like yours that gives me an insight. As a speech-language pathology graduate student, I enjoy expanding my knowledge on stuttering so I can be prepared when I encounter a client that stutters to help them the best way I know how. With that being said, do you have any advice that you would give to an individual on how to get through these unavoidable situations and prepare for the unknown of difficult circumstances?

    Thanks so much,
    Abby Wheeler

    • Thanks Abby!

      My advice would be to keep a few things in mind:

      1. There are more good than bad people in the world. Focus on the good ones. They will react positively towards your stuttering. And the more positive experiences you get, the more confident and prepared you’ll become.

      2. Talk to others who stutter so that you can get support for both the good and bad experiences. You’ll share each other’s stories and you’ll really feel that you have a tremendous amount of support as you go from one speaking situation after another.

      3. Stuttering isn’t your fault. There’s no rule that says you must be fluent all the time — you can still be an effective communicator even when you stutter. Stuttering does not equal failure.

  9. Dani,
    I love your comics so much! Those experiences are so relatable too. I agree that getting out there an letting our stutters be heard is hard but so important. Thanks for all the work you do and thanks for sharing all those success stories.
    Elizabeth

    • Thank you for your kind words, Elizabeth! I enjoy drawing my comics and I’m glad you are getting something out of them.

  10. Hi Daniele,

    I not only enjoyed your comic, but what you detailed under it as well. I am a current first year graduate student at Illinois State University. Through my stuttering course, I have found how important it is to serve as an ally to PWS. I appreciate your Franky Banky comics, as they help those who do not stutter become more aware of the experiences that PWS go through. Though, I could never know how it feels to stutter, becoming more aware of what PWS go through makes me want to be an ally more than ever.

    I love the few bullet points you included at the end of your piece. I have been a friend to a person who stutters for fifteen years, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that he actually brought up his stutter to me. Having starting being friends when we were little, I never gave his speech much thought, he was my friend because of his kindness and acceptance. It wasn’t until he found out I was majoring in speech pathology, that he finally brought up his stutter to me. I wish that he had then pins and bracelets to utilize as conversation starters that you brought up in the end of your piece.. I love that idea.

    Great post! Your comics are a unique and creative way that bring awareness to fluent speakers. It opened my eyes to different scenarios I had never imagined before. Thank you for sharing.
    -Michelle

    • Thanks Michelle! That’s my goal with my comics — to give a peek into the experience of what it’s like. That’s the power that a visual medium like comics can bring.

      Good on you for always having looked past your friend’s stutter. That sums up everything in terms of how to talk to someone who stutters 🙂

  11. Daniele-
    I loved your comic! What a fun and unique way to share great information and educate about stuttering. I am a SLP graduate student and hope to continue to educate people and help bring more awareness on the subject and I loved your creative way of doing this!

    • Thanks, Kirsten! On behalf of PWS worldwide, thank you for continuing to bring more awareness!

  12. Hi Daniele!
    What a great post, thank you! I am currently an SLP graduate student enrolled in a fluency course. Your comic strips really opened my eyes to situations a PWS may encounter that I had never thought about. It’s like you said, no one can really understand but others who stutter. To help me understand just a little bit more, I was hoping you could answer my questions. As a graduate student, what is your advice regarding “what not to do” in therapy? In addition, because I do not stutter and my clients may feel that I don’t understand, what comforting words can I offer that will let them know I care even if I haven’t experienced it personally?

    Thank you!
    Marcie

    • Thanks Marcie! To answer your first question of what not to do to in speech therapy is to focus exclusively on the speech tools. While speech tools are important, not addressing the emotional aspect of stuttering can cause the client to miss out on building resilience, facing speaking fears, etc.

      I don’t know what I can suggest you to say to show that you care as that should and will come from your heart. Perhaps spend some time imagining what it could be like to need extra time to say what you need to say in the situations in my comic. Maybe even give voluntary stuttering a try. Assess how you feel and then go from there. At the very least, becoming an SLP already shows that you care!

      I see an SLP’s mission as not “fixing” stuttering but helping the client control their stuttering and deal with the emotional impact. Check out my other site, ti-ger.org, as it may help as an analogy for kids who stutter.

  13. Daniele,
    I really appreciate your use of comics to share the experiences of PWS. As a SLP graduate student, I have learned about how stuttering can affect someone’s life on various levels. However, in-class discussions just don’t have the same impact as your stories. While reading the comics and blog I imagined myself in the position of the PWS. Doing so really helped me empathize for individuals who face these situations every day.

    You mention that the world would benefit if PWS were more comfortable with openly stuttering. I agree. The world has a lot of work to do, but I think more exposure would make people more understanding. But as you said, people who do not stutter can’t feel the emotional implications, so I’m sure being open is easier said than done.

    As a student clinician, I want to help individuals with fluency disorders to the best of my abilities. How do you suggest SLPs and people who do not stutter advocate for PWS?

    • Short answer: spread the word! 🙂

      As an SLP (student and professional), you will also have the unique experience of learning all about and working with stuttering and other communication disorders (which the world also needs awareness; myself included!). As you gain experience in your profession, attend conferences, keep up with research, you’ll be optimally informed more than the average person.

      Create or share awareness posts on social media, offer a few “fun facts” about stuttering at cocktail parties when people ask what you do for a living, give workshops to other SLPs who may not fully understand stuttering, and inform teachers (so many teachers don’t know!).

  14. Hi Daniele,
    I really enjoy not only these comics, but also all the comics in your book! As a future SLP, they have given me great insight into some of the situations a PWS may encounter on a day-to-day basis. One of my first clients in grad school was a PWS, and I remember kicking myself after I learned more about fluency for thinking exactly what you said- “maybe if he just tried to relax and breathe more, he would stutter less.” I also remember not realizing I was talking to a woman who stuttered in the grocery store, thinking she just couldn’t think of a word, and filling in the word for her. Later I learned that I should’ve let her finish her sentence (and that this is a good practice with both people who do and don’t stutter). My intentions were good, but my knowledge was lacking. Due to my initial ignorance (although I am learning a lot now in my fluency class!), I appreciate you encouraging PWS to self-disclose, be open to questions, and spread awareness. Although there may be some people not interested in learning about stuttering, I think most people want to know more. Awareness is key and your comics are a great way to inform fluenters (I’ve never heard that name until now). As a fluenter and future SLP, how do I instill the confidence in my pediatric clients to stand up for themselves when someone ask them a question like “Did you forget your name?”

    Juliana

    • Thanks for your kind compliments on my comic and book, Juliana! Don’t be too hard on yourself about not having known about stuttering in the past, you just didn’t know 🙂 Stuttering is one of the hidden disabilities. To the world, it may seem we really did forget our name, or whatever, but if someone doesn’t know, they just don’t know.

      “Fluenter” is a word a friend of mine made up. Her husband stutters and referred to herself as the fluenter 🙂

      The best thing to teach paediatric clients is that stuttering is just something they do. Like how some people have blonde hair, some have brown, some have red, etc. And stuttering simply means “bumpy speech” takes a little while longer to say. So when someone asks or teases them about forgetting their name, they can reply “No I didn’t. I just stutter’. The other key thing is to ensure they don’t take any teasing or questions like that as a reflection of themselves. “Stuttering is just something you do like how you are really good at and ”.

      And of course, as with all forms of bullying, they should tell a teacher.

  15. Daniele:

    Thank you for sharing this post. I loved the comic and what it represents. Something that stood out to me, with regards to spreading awareness, was as follows: “No one else is going to do it for us because people who don’t stutter simply don’t know what it’s like to grow up and live with stuttering every day. Nobody else but us stutterers understand the hardships, embarrassing situations, emotionally scarring challenges, and the discrimination that we face. We are the only ones who know full well that stuttering isn’t a psychological issue, a breathing problem, or a memory issue causing us to forget our own names.”

    My question is as follows: How does one go about educating a person who scoffs at stuttering without sounding judgmental or as if they are “attacking” that person?

    • Hi Lauren! Great question. I still find it hard sometimes to educate without sounding like I’m attacking. Especially in the heat of the moment. For instance, if they try to finish my sentence, I’d have to stop, educate, then continue. On paper it sounds ok but in real life it can be awkward. But the alternative is to stay quiet and that isn’t good either. So to play it safe, I educate with a smile. This way, they see I am positive and understanding. Sometimes the other person is really embarrassed when they hey realize what they had unintentionally done. But I stay friendly and understanding because I know they are good people. Not the jerks from elementary school.

  16. Hello Daniele,

    I was so glad to have read your piece and am almost in disbelief that there are real-life connections to the comic strips! I appreciate the rally to become self-advocates and get the word out about being a stutterer. How ingenious to see that Kylah created a stuttering identification card!
    Thank you for this creative and effective contribution. I truly hopes it helps get the word out!

    Kindly,
    Theresa

  17. Hi Daniele,

    I am an SLP graduate student, currently taking a fluency class. I visited your website about a month ago. I really enjoyed your mission and your podcasts.
    I like what you said in regard to letting a person who stutter say what they need to say. I am wondering specifically what would you recommend for a mother of a school-age child who stutters. What do you think would be a good approach to helping a child in this age range to become comfortable with stuttering?
    Thanks!

    • I’d recommend teaching the child that they are more than their stuttering. Or that stuttering isn’t everything about them. Everyone has strengths and differences which make them unique and valuable.

      For parents, I’d also say not to be too strict about using speech tools or fluency. It will only create a fear of stuttering and feelings of guilt that they let their parents down. It can get tiring to talk and it takes energy to keep ahead and use speech tools (though with practice one can get better and better).

      Stuttering isn’t wrong and stuttering isn’t bad. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. And give your child the time he or she needs to grow comfortable and confident with their speech.

      • Thank you for the wonderful advice. It is much appreciated! We are often encourage to focus on acceptance during our classes. I feel it will help me as a clinician. I will also pass the information on to my aunt, who has an 11-year-old son who stutters.

  18. Daniele, I really appreciated your paper! At the risk of quite the pun, the more “we get the word out”, the better. 🙂 It really is up to us to spread awareness and not hide.
    I need to get a few of your buttons. Franky Banky sure is cute!

    • Hahahahaha I love the pun, Stacey! After all these years in making my podcast and such, I can’t believe that pun hadn’t occurred to me 🙂

  19. Wow! What a thought provoking comic. Your representation really helped me to think about situations I had never considered before. One in particular resonated with me. A close friend of mine is a PWS, and although he is 23 years old, his family continues to use the “just slow down when you talk” and “just breathe” whenever he stutters. They’ve never been educated on the subject and it is so frustrating to hear them say this! He doesn’t know how to discuss it with them, but I’m trying to help him be an advocate for himself. Thanks for sharing this!

    • You are a good friend, Kysa. The Stuttering Foundation of America and the National Stuttering Association has some resources for parents that your friend may be interested in.

  20. Daniele

    I love your comic and piece. I am currently a communication sciences and disorders graduate student enrolled in a fluency course. Yes, our textbook has taught me a lot this semester, but hearing (and seeing) real life experiences about having a stutter gets us even more prepared to have clients who stutter. You used the term “stutterers”, we are taught to say “people who stutter.” How do you feel about these different terms? Thank you for posting this and giving people who don’t stutter a little more insight.

    Elaine

    • Thanks for loving my comic, Elaine. I have a mixed relationship with both terms, actually! Nothing wrong with “stutterer” but at the same time, it does tend to have a negative feel to it for some people. I do like people first language but after a while it gets just too much and may sound like it’s getting in the way. So I mix things up.

      That said, I used to work for a hospital serving kids with disabilities. It was during my time there where I learned the value that people first language brings. It focuses on the person and not the perceived weakness. But as I’ve mentioned above, it does get a bit tiring having to say “person who stutters”, “people who stutters”, etc. over and over in the same sentence or paragraph.

      Or me, I like saying “stutterer” because it’s my tribe 🙂

  21. Daniele,
    I enjoy reading your comics. I love how it’s seems light and funny but very real and informative. I was wondering how you managed to get to that level of comfort to advocate for yourself? Also, when talking about your stutter, how do you introduce it to others?

    Thanks,
    Kate

    • Thanks Kate! I guess I’ve always been a light hearted kind of guy. I grew up on a healthy deit of Looney Tunes and newspaper comics. Plus, staying quiet for most of my life made me burst open the floodgates so to speak when I started learning how stuttering can be seen as a pretty cool thing I do. Stuttering openly is an act of courage every time. And people like that. If I didn’t stutter, I wouldn’t be travelling to stuttering conferences and making all sort of cool friends with the same cool thing I do!

      The way I introduce my stuttering to others for the first time depends on the situation. Sometimes I just flat out tell them. Like today, I hosted a short meeting at work where at the beginning I said “I’ll be speaking as fast as I can which is a feat since I stutter”. Since my stuttering is usually moderate than severe, I usually wait until a stutter comes up. Or other times if my stuttering happens to fit the conversation, it comes up that way. For instance, if someone asks me where I went on vacation, and if I went to a stutters conference for vacation, I tell them that! That usually ends up with a conversation where I explain stuttering, how awesome the community is, etc. Disclosure and awareness all rolled into one!

  22. Daniele,

    I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology. I loved your comic. I look forward to listening to your podcasts and reading more of your Franky Banky comics. I am excited to share your comics with clients in therapy one day. I can see how they help children and teens to relate to Franky Banky. Each of the comics you shared help me to understand what someone who stutters is going through during everyday situations.

    I recently watched The King’s Speech for the first time, and I was so excited by the impact it made to the world. But I agree with what you said- one Oscar award just isn’t enough to spread stuttering awareness. Between your comics, podcasts, and your online video chats for PWS, you have made some great contributions to promote stuttering awareness. When did you become confident and accepting of your own stutter that you wanted to be so involved as a self-advocate for stuttering? Thank you for being a strong voice!

    • Thanks! I became confident about my stuttering as soon as women started seeing me in a positive light when I stuttered openly 🙂 I was always accepting of my stuttering as I’m a make-the-best-of-things kind of guy. As I ventured out of my comfort zone one speaking situation at a time, and meeting others who stuttered, I started feeling less alone in my stuttering and more kinda cool.

      My advocacy started by accident, actually. I wanted to meet others who stuttered so I started my podcast way back when. Being a make-the-best-of-things kind of guy, I wanted to encourage my fellow stuttering listeners to see the positives and benefits of stuttering openly like I did. So it became a tips podcast.

      And I’ve always wanted to be a cartoonist so it was a good mix with social media.

  23. Hello Daniele!
    Thanks for sharing your comics! Some of these situations are ones that I wouldn’t have even imagined happening! While I cannot relate on a personal level to what it feels like to be judged with a stutter, I am currently going to grad school for SLP and have been gaining more and more understanding what stuttering is and how it affects someone on a social and emotional level. I will admit that in the past I may have been guilty of the snap judgments, but strictly from lack of understanding. I appreciate your brutal honesty and your push for awareness.
    Looking forward to seeing more from you!

  24. Hello Daniele!

    I am a graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology and have had several opportunities to work with people who stutter both as clients and as research participants. I completely agree with you that education about stuttering is such an important thing! I find it very interesting that many people who stutter don’t know much about it and haven’t tried to learn more. However, I have met just as many, if not more, people who stutter that have no problem whatsoever educating people that they come in to contact with! I am currently enrolled in a Fluency class and am doing my Masters’ thesis on neurological aspects of stuttering and as I have learned more and more about stuttering I have started noticing more misinformation in media and in general conversations that I never noticed before! I have occasionally taken the opportunity to provide some education about stuttering to people but sometimes feel out of place as someone who doesn’t stutter. What is your perspective on fluent speakers offering education along with people who stutter?

    Thank you for your offering up your perspective on this and speaking out about education!
    Paige Newland

    • Thanks for helping us educate, Paige! What you are already doing is what fluent speakers can do — as long as they (and us stuttering speakers) understand stuttering. You are correct, there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about stuttering all over the place and it’s disheartening. But that’s also the case for any other topic. Fake news abound and buyer beware!

  25. Daniele,
    Thank you for sharing your comic strip with us, and the true events that went along with each picture. I noticed some recurring themes in many of the articles posted regarding the way in which people who stutter are commonly viewed by others. To me, your comic strip did an excellent job addressing these issues in just a view very powerful pictures. Hopefully light can continue to be spread on the misconceptions surrounding stuttering so society can have a better understanding and awareness about it. Thank you for sharing your story and artistic talents with us!
    Thank you,
    Kristin Johnson

    • Thanks Kirsten! What I like about comics — be it newspaper comics, comic books, graphic novels, or comic journalism) is they provide the visual. The artist can set up the scene in order to convey the intended message they best way possible. Whereas a photo journalist would need to be in the right place and the right time. And that sometimes mean in a life threatening situation (say, in front of an approaching army tank, or in the crossfire of a gunfight).

  26. Daniele,
    I was very impressed about the impact that these cartoons can have on increasing awareness about the daily life of a person who stutters. I also thought that creating a form of representation that children who stutter can relate to is extremely important in helping children who stutter with accepting that this is part of who they are, as well as realizing that they are not alone in what they are going through. I also appreciated reading your honest comments on how it feels to be judged and how you react to those who judge or misunderstand people who stutter. We are learning about stuttering in my fluency class, however this is the most honest and eye opening personal account I have encountered so far.
    Thank you,
    Emily L.

    • That’s great, Emily! I’m glad to know that my comics are helping. Originally, I thought they wouldn’t but after receiving all these comments, I was proven wrong 🙂 More Franky Banky comics to come!

  27. Hi Daniele,

    Thank you so much for sharing your comic! While entertaining it also brings attention to scenarios experience by people who stutter in everyday life. I found that it also highlighted the absurdity of the lack of awareness or the assumptions still made about people who stutter. I am currently a speech language pathology graduate student and recently had to pseudostutter for a day. I had to opportunity to sit through a job interview and felt extremely nervous about the way I was perceived. This comic is so relatable, even for a person who does not stutter. What a great tool to help others who stutter know that they are not alone in their experiences and that there is an entire community that understands what they are going through. Thank you for raising awareness in such an accessible way!

    • Thanks! And wow — you chose to do pseudostuttering during a job interview! You’re definitely a champ and already made of great-SLP-material 🙂

  28. Hi Daniele,

    I loved this comic, and your open and honest thoughts around advocacy! Franky Banky is truly a wonderful way to increase awareness about the daily life of people who stutter. As a future Speech Language Pathologist, and someone who doesn’t stutter, what advice do you have for discussing the thoughts and feelings surrounding stuttering with people who do stutter?

  29. Hi Daniele

    As you know I love your Franky Banky. Love the book, love the buttons, love the podcast, as they all bring so much understanding and positiveness in a way that’s so easy to understand for people of all ages, for both pws and professionals, teachers and friends. I’m looking forward to see the book it in all libraries, on every toilet. To see the buttons on all pwws’ clothes. To see the podcast being a part of SLP education. And why not to see postcards with Franky Banky. Also thanks for always cheering me up with Franky Banky items when I need a smile.

    You’re a true friend and an inspiration to so many.

    Keep talking!

    Anita S. Blom, Sweden

  30. Hello,

    My name is Stella. I’m 10, and I love your comics SO MUCH! I like to read your Franky Banky books, and I share his feelings. I think people should learn to understand that some people are just different than others. I am a fellow stutterer and want to learn more about stuttering. Can you provide any tips on what to say to people when they tell me to “slow down”, “breathe”, or “I’m listening”?