Crippen looks at those provocative charity collection figures

As part of my cartoon resurrection project, where I’m redrawing the old greyscale cartoons I created during the 1980’s and 90’s, I came across a couple of examples that included those life sized plaster models of disabled children carrying a collection tin and a slogan from one of the many charities that claimed to represent a particular impairment group.

Some of you will be familiar with the figure of the little boy that Barbara Lisicki, or to use her stage name Wanda Barbara, used as part of her comedy routine in the late eighties. She allegedly liberated it from outside of a W.H Smiths and ironically called it Chip, as in having a chip on its shoulder … a Crip with a chip!

And it got me thinking. Have you ever wondered why it’s been so difficult to change societies view of disabled people? Why we’ve continued to be seen as tragic, apathetic figures unable to shape our own futures or play any sort of positive role in society? Well, I largely blame these plaster replicas, with their tragic expressions and cowering postures. Positioned it seemed, outside every shop, clearly visible to passers by and accepted as part of the general fabric of their lives.

What was even more disturbing and what I’m sure has played an equally important part in miseducating the general public regarding their perception of disability, is the language that was used in their advertising. Terms such as ‘the spastic’, ‘the cripple’ and ‘the handicapped’, adorning these brightly painted figures. This use of the article/adjective ‘the’, still used as in ‘the disabled’ rendering us as an amorphous, characterless group, lacking individual characteristics and all tarred with the same brush.

Those disability charities still have a lot to answer for …

Crippen Cartoon Resurrection Project – Dave is currently undertaking a project which involves him redrawing the old greyscale cartoons he created back in the 1980’s and 90’s depicting the fight for civil rights by disabled people in the UK. You can find out more about this project by visiting the project page and supporting him in this important work.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

Five brightly painted plaster charity collecting figures stand against a plain green background. The words ‘the handicapped’, ‘the crippled’ and ‘the spastic’ are displayed around the figures.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by MJ Yoon on 09/03/2023 at 19:19



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: