About the Author:
Daniele Rossi is a cartoonist living in Canada. Stuttering and drawing comics since he was four years old, Daniele grew up to produce the Stuttering is Cool podcast and book of the same name with the latter featuring comics starring Franky Banky, a cartoon fox who stutters. An active participant in the global stuttering community including co-founding Stutter Social, an online community facilitating group video chats for people who stutter all over the world since 2011, and drawing Franky Banky comics for the Association bègaiement communication quarterly newsletter. Since his first name can be difficult even for English-language non-stutterers to say fluently, you can call him Danny. Head over to FrankyBanky.com for more comics!
The change I’d like to see is everyone who stutters feeling comfortable enough to stutter openly so they can spread awareness for the benefit of not only themselves, but for future generations of stutterers. How are fluenters (people who don’t stutter) supposed to understand stuttering when they don’t hear it? Nobody but us will spread awareness for the greater good, and build up the courage to step outside of our comfort zones one speaking situation at a time.
I made this little cartoon in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the theatrical premiere of The King’s Speech, a movie about the therapist/client/friendship between King George VI and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. This multi-award winning film brought stuttering into the spotlight to the delight of the global stuttering community. I, too, was really happy about this at the time and bought the DVD, the soundtrack, and even the book!
However, in retrospect, I now wonder if the movie didn’t quite send the right message. During the big climactic scene where King George VI gave his radio speech, he said it fluently. Well, almost fluently. Just with a lot of pauses giving the impression that fluent speaking equals success. The very same message that had been plaguing us stutterers all our lives.
Not cool. While I still like the movie, I’ve been done with trying to pass myself off as fluent and beating myself over stuttering on one word almost 15 years ago and have been reaping many benefits from stuttering overtly since. Besides, why should I, nay, we, be forced to speak fluently when we aren’t made to speak fluently?
Back to the cartoon. Since I like parodies so much, I made one of the final radio speech scenes, but this time, of the king stuttering. Instead of preparing the audience for war like in the movie, King George VI – portrayed by my cartoon character Franky Banky, a fox who stutters – encourages his fellow stuttering viewers to take steps out of their speaking comfort zones, stutter openly, and spread much needed stuttering awareness.
I recruited my friends to give voice characterizations. Starting off the parody is the character of Lionel Logue, voiced by Australian-born, Grant Meredith, who has been making digital content since the 1990s. He is a member of Australia’s Speak Easy Association’s National Council and a member of Speech Pathology Australia’s Ethics Board. Mentioned in the cartoon is “fair dinkum” which is Australian slang for something that is really good and/or true. You may remember that Lionel Logue was Australian.
The cartoon continues with the radio speech given by Franky Banky/King George VI voiced by actor and Tik Tok star, Marc Winski. Marc’s portrayal of Franky Banky was based on a Canadian trying really hard to sound like the king yet not being successful at it. After all, it’s a parody! I think Marc did a great job! Marc is an actor, singer, and dancer who performed on Disney Cruise Lines and in Broadway shows such as Grease and Hairspray. He strives for giving a voice and advocating for people who stutter in theatre, film, media, and television which garnered media attention about his hilarious stuttering awareness videos on TikTok and Instagram.
Playing Queen Elizabeth is Stella, a female cartoon character I recently designed and debuted on Instagram. She is voiced by Lynne Mackie, who is the creator behind the StammerOn YouTube channel. Lynne is also active in drama/community theatre where she played one of the witches in MacBeth and is now directing a self-written play. Lynne is a Trustee for both Stamma and the Scottish Stammering Network, and is a board member for Stamily, a worldwide stuttering community dedicated to sharing the lived experiences of people who stutter.
I had a lot of fun creating this cartoon and I thank Grant, Marc, and Lynne for helping me bring it to life!
Give getting out of your comfort zone a try and be the change you wish to see!
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