Dear Gail Simone,
I tried to ask this as a question on your Tumblr profile, but alas, I am a woman of too many words… So now I post this on my own profile instead. I hope that’s alright.
As a woman with a disability I always felt drawn to Barbara Gordon in her time as Oracle. I loved the way you wrote her. You gave us a character with, but not solely defined by, her disability. She had strengths, she had skills, she had an on/off love life and, most importantly, she did not merely serve to help put able-bodied main characters’ lives into perspective; no, she had her own quests. That is, sadly, incredibly rare in the history of disability representation. And, for that matter, the history of female representation!
Barbara has moved on, but I would like to hang on to Oracle and give her a more permanent existence - on my own body. And this is the reason I am trying to get in touch with you.
…At this point it seems I should share a bit of my personal history: I was never really a tattoo-kinda-gal, to “sensible” for permanent body alterations that one might regret later. But the past, tumultuous year has changed my perspective. I was born with a form of Muscular Dystrophy and have depended on a wheelchair since I was 11 (I am now 28), and in the Spring of 2013 my breathing began to give out. So I had no choice but to get a tracheostomy, and I now use a ventilator around the clock. You could say I have become a real-life cyborg;) I am currently slowly reclaiming my old life with work, social life etc. However, my body has been permanently altered and I am trying to reconcile my new reflection in the mirror, tubes and all, with my notions of femininity, desirability, independence and capability (not just disability).
All this made my think of Oracle. The way you wrote her embodied all of those things. And so I thought, instead of my disease deciding for me when and how my body should be permanently altered, perhaps it’s time I take charge and decide on some alterations of my own. Alterations not out of medical necessity, but out of my own free will. And what I would like to do is give Oracle, with her disabled yet empowered body, an afterlife on my own body, as a reminder that disability, power and beauty can coexist. I imagine her embodying all three by posing sort of like a classical pin-up (sex), but with her wheelchair (disability) and with her laptop or one of her fighting staffs (capability).
The problem, or challenge, is: I can’t think of a particular drawing depicting Oracle like that. And so I wanted to ask you: Can you think of one? Or do you know someone who might like to draw her like that? I don’t have a ton of money, so I can’t offer much in that respect, but perhaps one of the people who drew Oracle in her heydays would be intrigued by the idea of giving her this particular kind of afterlife, with the meaning and symbolism it entails?
I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch with you like this - and look very much forward to hearing from you.
Sarah, Copenhagen, Denmark