How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?
by Andy Slater

Page 1
Our hero, Andy, stands to the left of the page. He is dressed in a black suit jacket, white shirt, and white tie. He is wearing a pair of large sunglasses. He has a large mustache that connects to his sideburns and looks very dapper. There is a speech bubble to the right. Andy introduces himself.

CAPTION: “Hello! My name is Andy and I am visually impaired, legally blind, can’t see well, got bad eyes, etc. During my tenure as a blind person I have been asked many questions about my vision. I have also received a ton of confused looks from people… some just up and run away from me like I’m going to make them get blind or something… I have even encountered some folks who outright accuse me of faking my disability. Seriously! Some people out there get up in my face with “You’re not really blind!!!” and smirk as if they caught me lying about my Canadian girlfriend. Chances are that this is why I have handed you this comic, because I’d like you to learn a little about blind people before you go opening your mouth and embarrassing yourself! I know I look good. I know I seem to have a grasp on what I’m doing. I may exceed your expectations…but those are not reasons to feel threatened by me. I’m just a dude who wants to live life without ignorant, aggressive people interrupting me. I’ve grown tired of having to justify why I use a cane. The one-liners have become stale and I can’t afford to lose my wonderful singing voice by yelling all the time. I’d much rather sit and talk one on one with someone who actually want to understand my disability and make them more comfortable around blind folks. So I made this comic to do the smack talkin’ for me. Please read it and consider everything I say. It’s all pretty simple. Thanks!” -END OF CAPTION

Page 2
There are two side-by-side panels.

In the left panel a light colored bulldog sits on the floor. There is a shelf behind the dog that has books and records on it. Behind the dog is old console style television set with a VCR on top. The dog looks at you with a concerned yet sweet expression. On the television screen is the opening credits of The Rockford Files. James Garner smiles with the show’s title below him.

CAPTION: I have a degenerative disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Everyone with RP has different symptoms. It’s very hard to explain. On the left is how you may see my dog, Pickles, and good old Jim Rockford…
– END OF CAPTION.

In the right panel is the same image but drawn as Andy would see it. The image is distorted with a cloudy dark border that partially obscures the bookshelf, television, and dog. Most of the detail is lost and the few that remain are blurry.

CAPTION: …on the right is how my eyes perceive them.
“It’s like a pinhole covered in TV snow and purple strobing disco lights… my life is more psychedelic than I need it to be!” -END OF CAPTION.

Page 3
There are two side-by-side panels.

In the left panel we see man leaning against a wall. He wears a Fedora with a necktie, an untucked dress shirt with rolled up sleeves, and blue jeans. He is smoking a cigarette and has a cocky expression. The man sees Andy walking down the sidewalk, but waits until he thinks Andy is out of earshot to yell, “You’re not really blind!”

In the right panel the man is now standing face-to-face with Andy. The man aggressively holds up two fingers, just inches from Andy’s face. Andy looks very upset as the following conversation takes place:

Man: “How many fingers am I holding up? You can see… Haw Haw! You’re faking it!”

Andy: “I’m looking at you ‘cuz I can hear where your mouth is. I can smell that bottle of “Cool Water” you dumped on yourself, too! You know nothing about me, scrub…”

Andy explains to readers why they should educate themselves on disability instead of harassing passersby.

CAPTION: There are many reasons why I use a cane. My vision is unpredictable. My cane helps in many situations. It’s hard to understand, so go read about RP. Next time we meet, we’ll have something to talk about.
-END OF CAPTION.

Page 4
Andy is crossing the street with his cane, but a car is blocking the crosswalk. A woman is behind the wheel and talking on her phone. The car is a light colored BMW with a vanity plate that reads “NKNSDR8”. Andy, obviously irritated, raises his fist in an attempt to get the driver’s attention.

CAPTION: A blind pedestrian always has the right of way. They may turn or stop without notice so wait until they’ve fully crossed!

“Nothing stops me dead in my tracks like the sound of an approaching car… don’t creep on me, Christine! I won’t know where to run!” –END OF CAPTION.

Page 5
A man with a mullet haircut and wearing a ‘No Fat Chix’ t-shirt and Crocs is riding his bike on the sidewalk and approaching a corner. Andy is walking towards the cyclist with his cane extended in front of him, but the cyclist is unable to see Andy, because there is a building blocking his view of approaching pedestrians. They are about to collide, but is forced to stop. Visibly annoyed, the cyclist exchanges some heated words with Andy.

Cyclist: “Get out of the way!”

Andy: “What the— ?! Get off the sidewalk!”

Cyclist (indignantly): “I don’t want to get hit by a car… My cool bike has no brakes… Move it!”

Andy continues to walk with a determined expression and posture.His cane blocks the cyclist’s path, enraging the cyclist, but allowing Andy to safely continue his journey.

CAPTION: A cyclist on the sidewalk is a major threat to a blind pedestrian. A moving bike may look no different than an axe-wielding maniac! –END OF CAPTION.

Page 6
Andy is in front of a fast food joint called, “Meat Queen”. There is a sign that reads “Millions and Millions Sold.” An older bald man in a mismatched plaid suit grabs Andy’s forearm and attempts to direct to him “Meat Queen”. Startled, Andy tries to pull away, raising his cane in the air. The man informs Andy, “The burgers are this way, idiotka!” as he points to the burger sign.

CAPTION: Don’t assume a blind person needs help just because he’s blind. Always ask if someone needs assistance – never grab or pull! “You don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know that you’re not going to mug me, or throw me into the street!” –END OF CAPTION. .

Page 7
There are two side-by-side panels.

In the left panel Andy stands leaning on his cane. His left hand rests below his chin and he appears unfazed. Next to Andy is a shorter man with a long beard and no mustache, much like a garden gnome. He is wearing an “Up With People” t-shirt, suspenders holding up his pants, and a halo above his bald head. The man looks at Andy with an eerie smile and begins to lecture Andy.

Man: “If you finally let Jesus into your heart you will be healed!”

Andy: “…oh, really?”

Andy cups his left hand around his chin and cheek and gives an expression that is best described as “you really don’t want to start with me, old man.”

In the right panel, Andy has clearly had enough and confronts the man about his ignorance. Andy, who now has devil horns on top of his head, raises his hand and points at the man and asks, “What makes you think that I don’t love God as much as you?” Do you think God is punishing me and that my disability is punishment for not being as righteous as you?”

The man turns and runs away scared. His halo is tossed in the air behind him. He looks over his shoulder and yells to Andy, “I’ll pray for you!”

CAPTION: If you’re out to spread the good word be righteous! Don’t blame the victim! –END OF CAPTION.

Page 8
There are two side-by-side panels.

In the left panel we see Andy crossing the street with his cane out in front of him. A woman with long blond hair wearing a white sweater and grey skirt trips over his cane and falls to the ground. She spills her coffee and drops her umbrella. Andy asks, “Are you okay? I’m so sorry. Take my hand.”

In the right panel we see Andy reaching out his hand to help the young woman onto her feet. She is smiling. An older woman with her hands behind her back stands to the right. She is wearing plaid pants a cardigan sweater and a big hat with a large brim and has been watching the entire time. She snidely remarks, “It must be weird- being the one helping someone else for a change!”

Andy, unwilling to ignore the older woman’s sneering attitude, replies, “Ma’am, I’m not done helping! Let me see what I can do about that ugly old hat of yours…,” as he continues to help the other woman back up.

CAPTION: We can be social and independent, capable of doing normal things… like crossing the street, or accidentally tripping a lady. –END OF CAPTION.

Page 9
The image is identical to the first page, with Andy in a dapper suit and directly addressing the audience.
Hi it’s me again Andy! Thanks for reading my book. It really means a lot to me. I have enough stress in my life walking into walls and knocking over wine glasses but knowing that you and I now have an understanding makes me feel a lot better. By reading this you learned about what its like to have Retinitis Pigmentosa and how simple it can be to make things easier for people like me. As absurd as they may seem all of these experiences have happened to me. You can now see why I may have a chip on my shoulder, right? The more people out there that read this book and become educated like yourself, the happier I’ll be. Remember: Blind people are not magical or helpless, we’re just people.
“SEE” you soon!“

Page 10
Credits:
Written by Andy Slater
Illustrated by Steve Krakow
Text and layout by Jesse Irwin

Visit Andy’s website at www.thisisandyslater.com