And Justice for All…?


April 13, 2019


Syracuse, NY

NOTE: All times indicated occur in EDST.  A full program is available in your swag bag, or you can download a PDF copy online.


Autographs will be available during times indicated, below.

Art exhibit (Panasci), quiet and “low stim” room (303 Schine), gaming room (302 Schine), and tabling area (approved vendors and info. tablers, Panasci) will be available throughout the day, pending tablers’ and others’ availability.

An accessible photo booth will be available in the Panasci Lounge, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

9:45-10:00 A.M., WELCOME TO THE 6th CRIPCON!, Schine 304ABC (Live Streamed)

10:00-11:30 A.M., PLENARY PANEL: AND JUSTICE FOR ALL…?, Schine 304ABC (Live Streamed)


  • Jason Harris
  • Keith Jones
  • Leroy F. Moore, Jr.
  • Jason Pittman
  • Nancy Silberkleit
  • Lucy Wales
  • Georgia Webber

Moderated by Diane R. Wiener, Research Professor and the Associate Director of the Burton Blatt Institute’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach (College of Law, Syracuse University), Coordinator and Co-Creator of “Cripping” the Comic Con


12:00-1:30 P.M., LUNCH ON YOUR OWN

1:30-3:30 P.M., WORKSHOP SESSION #1, 304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine

  • 304A: Light Painting (Dave Schlaich) 
  • 304B: Handiman Meets Luke Cage: Krip-Hop Song/Poetry Beats Making & Cypher (Leroy Moore and Keith Jones)
  • 304C: The Chilling Tales of Sabrina and Riverdale: Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit Connects Comics in the Classroom (1:30-2:30 P.M. only)

2:30-6:30 P.M., ACCESSIBLE PHOTO BOOTH, Panasci Lounge


4:00-5:00 P.M., WORKSHOP SESSION #2, 302 & 304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine

  • 304A: Cosplay and Disability (Joe Munisteri and Nancy Amaro)
  • 304B: Design Your Own Access Avenger  (Gilles Stromberg)
  • 304C: Drawing the Inside Out: Making Comics for Yourself (Georgia Webber)
  • 302: Music and Gaming: For the Love of Chiptunes (Ben Jones and Timmy Champa)


5:30-7:00 P.M., DINNER BUFFET, Panasci Lounge

7:00-8:00 P.M. “CRIP” COFFEEHOUSE AND DESSERT BUFFET, Schine 304ABC **This will be a  opportunity for Crip, Autistic, Neurodivergent, Deaf, and Mad folks, and others who self-identify as disabled or having a disability.  Reception courtesy of the Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee, with support from the Disability Student Union. ASL interpretation provided.




April 22, 2017


Syracuse, NY


9:00-9:45 A.M. ON-SITE REGISTRATION AND BREAKFAST BUFFET — Panasci Lounge          

Autographs are currently scheduled to be available from artist Dan White (Department of Ability, U.K.), artist Gilles Stromberg (Access Avengers, U.S.), and musicians Sarah Renehan and Jessica Renehan (Calling Utopia, Australia), during times indicated, below.

Art exhibit (Panasci), quiet and “low stim” room (Menschel Gallery), gaming room (302 Schine), and tabling area (approved vendors and info. tablers, Panasci) will be available throughout the day, pending tablers’ and others’ availability.

An accessible photo booth will be available in the Panasci Lounge, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The 2017 CripCon will be podcasted by TGP Nominal (U.K., U.S.)

9:45-10:00 A.M. WELCOME TO OUR 5th ANNUAL CRIPCON! — Schine 304ABC

10:00-11:30 A.M.  PLENARY: OUR OWN ICONS! AN INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT —  Schine 304ABC (Live Streamed)


  • Daniel White (Department of Ability)
  • Emily White (Department of Ability, CripCon17 Youth Ambassador)
  • Abby Kessler (Cosplayer, CripCon17 Youth Ambassador)
  • Gilles Stromberg (Illustrator, Co-Creator of the Access Avengers)
  • Joseph Munisteri (Cosplayer, Writer)
  • Nancy Amaro (Cosplayer, Designer)
  • Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri (Co-Creator of “Cripping” the Comic Con)

Moderated by Diane R. Wiener, Director of the Syracuse University Disability Cultural Center, Coordinator and Co-Creator of “Cripping” the Comic Con


12:00-1:30 P.M.  LUNCH ON YOUR OWN

1:30-3:00 P.M. WORKSHOP SESSION #1 (304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine)

304A: Cosplay and Disabilities/Light Painting – with Joseph Munisteri, Nancy Amaro, and David Schlaich

304B: Create Your Own CripCon Mascot and Meet the Department of Ability – with Daniel White, Aimee White, and Emily White

304C: Breaking (?) Frame: Creating New “Crip” Spaces – with Don Carr, Sarah Gillen Redmore, and Collaborative Design M.F.A. Students

****2:30-6:30 P.M. ACCESSIBLE PHOTO BOOTH  — Panasci Lounge****


3:30-5:00 P.M. WORKSHOP SESSION #2 (304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine)

304A: The Block Party (Inclusive LEGO®) – with Nicole Wheatley

304B: Design Your Own Access Avenger – with Gilles Stromberg

304C: Breaking (?) Frame: Creating New “Crip” Spaces – with Don Carr, Sarah Gillen Redmore, and Collaborative Design M.F.A. Students


5:30-7:00 P.M.  DINNER BUFFET — Panasci Lounge

7:00-8:00 P.M. CALLING UTOPIA (LIVE STREAMED ROCK CONCERT; Q&A)  — Schine Underground

8:00-8:30 P.M. CLOSING  — Schine Underground


Our 5th Annual “Cripping” the Comic Con is an international summit bringing together the Department of Ability (U.K.) and the Access Avengers (U.S.), two teams of superheroes with disabilities.  Meet the creators of these teams’ representations/images/stories, and other distinguished guests, during this live streamed plenary, a panel hosted by youth ambassadors from the U.K. and the U.S. Panelists will be asked to reflect and comment upon the importance of representations of disability in comics, graphic memoirs and novels, manga, etc., among other related topics. CripCon participants, in-person and virtually (via international live stream), will be encouraged during the “Q&A” to interact with panelists and each other.


Nancy Amaro

Nancy is a Seamstress, Costume Designer, Theater Designer, Artist, Propbuilder, Graphic Designer, and Cosplayer from Texas. She recently moved to New York. Nancy cosplays depression.

Abigail Charlie Kessler or c/o Mom, Sarah:

I am a 13-year-old, 8th grade student in a local Junior High School in Syracuse. I live with my mom, dad, brother Jacob (18) and my dog, Nala.

I was four years old when I got my first diagnosis of Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). My mom began to see birthmarks on my skin and mentioned them to my pediatrician. After a brief exam, my doctor set up a series of follow up appointments. Within two weeks, my diagnosis was confirmed by a local neurologist. Soon after, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, scoliosis, and ADD, and had discovered a tumor under my tongue. I began having seizures at night and had a tough time sleeping.

NF1 is a neurological and genetic condition that appears in various ways. Typically, I explain it by saying that the disease causes tumor growth and bone deformities. My symptoms are: birthmarks (café au lait spots), tumor growth, scoliosis, epilepsy, Lisch nodules (birthmarks on my eyes), and I have a very difficult time learning in school. Most people that have NF1 have family members that also have it. I do not have anyone in my family that shares my illness.

My mom became increasingly frustrated by not getting the answers to her questions and we ended up spending several days at Boston Children’s Hospital. By the time I was five, I was wearing a back brace 23 hours a day. I had the tumor under my tongue removed and I began a steady dose of medications.

My back brace was replaced with growing rods when I was nine. I had surgery every six months to lengthen the rods and make sure that all of the medical parts were not broken. My family also continued taking me to Boston Children’s Hospital for all of my follow up care because it has a clinic that is specific to kids with my condition.

In September 2015, we were on a family vacation at Walt Disney World. I began hallucinating and became paranoid. When we came home, I was hospitalized several times because I was scared all of the time. Again, my mom took me back to Boston to see a child psychiatrist. There, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis. I have been medicated and receiving therapy for many years now. I am feeling better, but I still have times when I am really sad and can’t explain why. Sometimes, I am so excited, I can’t seem to sit still. I always talk to my doctors, therapists and my mom about how I am feeling, so that we can adjust my medicine and make sure that I am healthy.

I have been an ambassador for the local non-profit organization, Charity for Children, for eight years. CFC helps local kids with disabilities and their families get the medical services they need. They also help pay for medicine, medical equipment, travel costs associated with doctor visits, and any other extra costs that can be difficult for families to pay for. I have been lucky enough to speak at events explaining how helping other kids like me is so important.

Currently, I am having a tough time in school, but I am trying the best I can. I play the violin, sew, and am learning to crochet. I love anime culture and conventions. I have started to make my own costumes and I would like to go to college for costume design.

I am more than my diagnosis and I will continue to educate and advocate.

Joseph Munisteri 

Joseph Munisteri is a founding board member of Youth Power! He is also a cosplayer who brings awareness to various topics via activism. He is extremely active in his community in an attempt to make everyone’s lives more awesome. He hopes one day to write a comic based upon the Access Avengers. Joe also owns a Giant Papier Mache Hulk and has presented at the New York Comic Con and at Syracuse University. Joe has a passion for bringing people together to create change.

Gilles Stromberg

Gilles Stromberg is a 2012 Alum of Syracuse, where they received a BFA in Illustration, and a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies. While at Syracuse, Gilles was the Art Director for the Queer Student-Run Magazine OutCrowd, a student employee at the LGBT Resource Center, a tubist within the Syracuse University Marching Band, and a Dishwasher and Fried Egg Maker at the Ernie Davis Dining Hall. Gilles has worked in several capacities for both national and local LGBT-based non-profit organizations in the Washington D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area. Currently, Gilles is a Masters Candidate at the University of San Francisco in the School of Education. Their current research and work is on supporting marginalized and historically oppressed students with anxiety. As the illustrator and co-creator behind the Access Avengers, they are excited to continue working with folks in the disability community to provide representation!

Daniel White

I am an artist, a writer, and the very proud father of the oncoming storm of life and determination that is my wheelchair using daughter, Emily. Emily is ten, and has a thirst for life, art, music, science, books, living, and challenges, and she is also the reason for my comic book heroes in the Department of Ability (D.O.A.).

The D.O.A. is coming to world bookshops in 2017, with Stan Lee’s (Marvel) interest upping the ante. Five disabled superheroes who use all their enhanced superpowers to save the world from a villain of unlimited galactic proportions!

Since the concept came to me almost five years ago, interest has garnered from all corners of the world, with many influential supporters and friends eager to see book one published. The characters, and Emily and I, have appeared on global television, in newspapers, on radio, and across the Internet, with now thousands of eager fans ready to read the first adventures of Emily, Pawsy, Claypole, Billy and Azzi. I am also in talks already to bring them to life on the small screen, along with my other creation, Team Strongbones.

It is not just the upcoming book and promotion that I work on. I am honoured to now be a global speaker on the subject of Disability and the criminal lack of Inclusion across the world, both in media and social life. I contribute regular articles on a variety of disability-themed subjects in magazines; tour schools across the U.K., providing workshops and talks; appear regularly on radio with news and views; and am about to be thrust further into the marvelous disability rights community, by working with the UK Parliament and the country’s biggest charity, SCOPE.

2017 will be an especially exciting year for the Department of Ability, as a huge media round is being planned by my agent and contacts upon the book’s release. I am honoured to be working with Leah Moore (Albion, Wild Girl, etc.), daughter of Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.). From all of this hopeful interest, I wish to highlight the need for inclusion, right across the board, by shouting from the rooftops about the brilliance and talent in the disability community and by working closer with my partners, Include Me Too and Strongbones.

I am just a man with a plan, and a man with a fantastic, brilliant, powerful daughter who is ready to show the world that she and her community are coming to take over.

Emily White
My name is Emily White, and my Dad has created a bunch of new SUPERHEROES all around me! He has called it the Department of Ability, and I am saving the world with my four super friends!  I am ten years old.  I love playing basketball, gaming, drawing and painting, doing martial arts, and I adore my music and reading! I get around in my funky wheelchair and I now have my own YouTube channel dedicated to music and gaming.  I have been seen and heard all around the world, thanks to my Dad’s comic creations, on TV, radio and newspapers, and now I am very lucky to be here in Syracuse meeting loads of brilliant, brilliant new people who love comics and cosplay as much as I do!  I cannot wait for Dad’s comic to come out this year! The colouring book has already sold out, and to see disabled superheroes just being themselves and saving the world will be awesome! I also cannot wait to meet Diane, and Sarah and Jess, the amazing person at the University and the ladies who write fantastic rock songs!!!

Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri

Co-creator (with Diane Wiener) of “Cripping” the Comic Con, the annual symposium on disability and popular culture at Syracuse University, Rachael is a HUGE X-Men fan (with Batman a close second), and has presented on the X-Men and Disability for many years. Mother to an Autistic teenage son, Rachael writes and presents about neurodiversity and autism parenting, seeking to debunk and disrupt traditional representations of “the autism mom.” She is currently enrolled as a non-traditional student in the Human Development & Family Science program at Falk College, with a Disability Studies Minor, at Syracuse University. She is also a founding member of the Disability Student Union (DSU), and has worked at the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University for over 30 years.

Diane R. Wiener (Moderator)

Diane is obsessed with all things Spider-Man (Wolverine is a close second).  She has published on subjects related to diversity, social justice, inclusion, pedagogy, and empowerment, with particular attention paid to interdisciplinarity (including feminist and queer media studies, sociolinguistic and medical anthropology, critical theory), cross-disabilities perspectives, and the Mad Pride movement. Diane holds a Ph.D. (U. Arizona, 2005: Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies), an M.S.W. (Yeshiva University, 1989), and a B.S. (Rutgers University, 1987), as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Anthropology (U. Arizona, 2005). She is licensed as an L.M.S.W. in New York State. Diane joined the Syracuse University Division of Student Affairs (now the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience) as the Director of the Disability Cultural Center in the fall of 2011, after being a full-time faculty member at Binghamton University, and having worked in the social services, education, and mental health activist fields on the east coast and in the southwest. Diane self-identifies as an educator, administrator, social worker, advocate, poet, and artist, among other roles. During the fall of 2016, Chancellor Kent Syverud appointed Diane as Co-Chair (with Barry Wells) of the University-wide Council on Diversity and Inclusion.  She is a founding and current member of the Syracuse University Contemplative Collaborative and is engaged in service with many other committees and advisory groups.  In May of 2016, Diane began blogging for the Huffington Post. Also a part-time faculty member, Diane proudly and happily teaches various courses at Syracuse University.  She is currently teaching (Dis)abling Comics for the Renée Crown University Honors Program.


Workshop Session #1

Join presenters Joseph “Dopple Cosplay” Munisteri, Nancy “Namaro Designs” Amaro, and Light Painter and Cosplay photographer, David Schlaich, as they discuss Cosplay and how it works as a form of peer support, while being a way to embrace one’s creativity. Presenters will discuss their lives as disabled artists, describe prop and costume building, and express how all of these connections brought the three of them together. Workshop will also include a special treat: David will create light paintings with participants!

Refer to bios above for Joseph Munisteri and Nancy Amaro 

David Schlaich

David Schlaich is a light painter and cosplay photographer who uses his light paintings to bring awareness to cancer and disabilities.


Come learn the story of how the latest SUPERHEROES were born into the WORLD! See (and access in other ways) some original early concept art, some comic book exclusive artwork, and, at the same time, get involved and create your very OWN CripCon mascot!!! Dan White will excitedly bound around the room, fresh with his family from the UK, telling a long, inclusive story while encouraging you budding comic book geniuses to draw and imagine! Warning: Workshop will be very BRITISH!!!!! And buzzing!

Refer to bios above for Daniel White and Emily White.

Aimee White

Hi. I’m Dan’s wife and Emily’s mum. I usually hide in the background, as I hate my photo being taken, and I’m not as natural in front of a camera as Emily and Dan. They are so good, you can’t stop them talking.  We needed a website, and could not afford a web designer, so I have been watching YouTube, and have learnt how to make our own. We didn’t have the Internet when I was at school (showing my age), so I have had to learn completely from scratch. My other roles in the Department of Ability include chaperoning these two divas, organising places to stay, and making sure all of Emily’s needs are taken care of, whilst Dan is organising the D.O.A.

I have really loved being involved with the Department of Ability. It’s been a great family project, not only for us, but it has included my parents, and many of our friends. It’s really exciting to see how far it can take us, and meeting so many like-minded people whilst making new friends.


An afternoon of fun, fantasy, and building amazing stuff.  Join with Designers and Artists from the College of Visual and Performing Arts to create dramatic extensions of our super-hero selves.  If all the world is your stage, then much in life is all about making a dramatic entrance! Therefore, we’re looking to partner with CripCon attendees to project their identities onto a doorway / threshold or entryway. After all, what would Batman be without the Batcave? So, stop by and help us co-design and fabricate a pop-up entryway in the spirit of your super-hero self. Once complete, join us for amazing photo-ops of ‘making an entrance’ at 4:30pm.

Don Carr

Don Carr is the program coordinator for the MFA in Collaborative Design program here at Syracuse University. Students in the program practice inclusive design principles with every project they undertake and embrace the motto ‘nothing about us without us’ as a credo for all design. Don has designed numerous products throughout his career and as such his current focus is inter-disciplinary efforts with local and regional impact. He’s currently working to set up an adaptive design association that will be based here in Syracuse.  In addition, the Collaborative Design program recently hosted an Adaptive Design Seminar in conjunction with the Fitness Inclusion Network, bringing together students, educators, physical therapists, and families to address a range of challenges.

Sarah Gillen Redmore

Sarah Gillen Redmore is an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University in the School of Design. She specializes in professional practices and universal design methods and accessibility for all people, regardless of physical abilities. Redmore’s career has included over 16 years of professional experience focused on commercial interior design projects for education, corporate and healthcare environments. She earned a BFA from SU in Interior Design (1990), BA in Psychology from SUNY Oswego (1996), and MBA at Whitman School of Management at SU (2015). Redmore led SU’s Environmental & Interior Design program for 7 years and maintained the top 10 national ranking. She recently helped launch a new interdisciplinary graduate program, Collaborative Design, and develops human-centered projects focused on design thinking and social responsibility.

Workshop Session #2


This workshop is built around inclusive play ideals. In this workshop, you will go to a table and build with LEGO® building blocks. The goal is to build whatever you would like. There are no rules behind the play. It is very important to just let your imagination take flight.

Nicole M. Wheatley

I am 22 years old and a senior at Stockton University. I am currently developing my own degree in play therapy while minoring in childhood studies and disability studies; I plan to pursue this path in my graduate studies, as well. I volunteered for a few years at the local Autism Center. I loved working with the kids and seeing how they not only lit up a dim room when they were playing with LEGO®, but also how the play opened up doors to communication. I had this amazing opportunity to create a program for children with Autism, and of course I loved LEGO®! I had a nice turnout, and, over the course of two consecutive days, noticed how some of the children developed increased comfort with their building buddies. This experience made me more excited about working with LEGO® and hosting “block parties”! I loved seeing the joy among the children as well as the interactions that differently sized blocks have the power to create. My professor at Stockton who taught Disability Rights and History introduced me to the world of comics and the power that disabilities could give to the heroes and figures. I found this to be interesting, but I found it to be more interesting that “Cripping” the Comic Con exists, with all that it has to offer. After a year of planning, here I am!


The Access Avengers is a massive collection of superheroes bounded together in the similar mission of making our world and beyond an accessible, celebratory, and safer space for people from all experiences in life — particularly those who have disabilities. The Access Avengers represented at “Cripping” the Comic Con are seven (including Skipper) out of COUNTLESS other Access Avengers not yet revealed! What does your Access Avenger look like (or how do they otherwise appear)? What about your nemesis of the Access Avengers? Come be a part of expanding media representations by going through a figure drawing/creating art workshop, which will help you to create your very own character in the world of the Access Avengers! We will provide several art mediums to create characters in many accessible ways.

Refer to bio above for Gilles Stromberg.


 Refer to description above.  Reminder: Photo-ops of ‘making an entrance’ will begin at 4:30 pm.

Featured Artists

Bradley Davies
Hi. My name is Bradley. I am 18. I love art. Mum says she can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a pencil in my hand. I draw, make models, and love making videos. I also finger draw on my iPad. I have a GCSE in art. At school, I didn’t learn reading or writing because I have severe dyslexia and no working memory, so I draw my stories and life needs in pictures. I can even draw a shopping list! I think art is a big part of my life. I love it and I can do art anywhere, even when I’m in hospital, which is quite a lot! I have a serious bone disease which has made my spine get fractures and my long bones hurt very badly. I do work now, at a printing works called Edu-Print — this is computer programming too. I also do some work for Daniel White, at the Department of Ability, D.O.A. I love this work! You can see my work at My videos are here:

Al Davison

Hi, I’m Al Davison, a comics creator, martial artist, and filmmaker. I have worked extensively for DC/Vertigo on such titles as: Hellblazer, Vermillion, House of Mystery, CMYK, The Dreaming, and The Unwritten.  I have also drawn Doctor Who comics for IDW. I’m probably best known for my graphic autobiography, The Spiral Cage, which explores my experiences growing up with Spina Bifida, a condition I was born with and wasn’t expected to survive.  I’m currently working on Future Echoes with Yen Quach (for Liminal Comics), a top secret project with Leah Moore and John Reppion, as well as on Muscle Memory, a sequel to The Spiral Cage. Some details follow.

Future Echoes is a work-in-progress, to be published initially online, then as a book by Liminal Comics (first part due online in June, 2017).  A collaboration between artist Yen Quach and myself, we are each drawing a different character, describing “A long distance love affair, across time, not space” or “a supernatural gothic romance with wheelchairs.”

The Spiral Cage was the first volume of my autobiography, currently out of print.  The pages featured in the art exhibit for “Cripping” the Comic Con 2017 are remastered, coloured versions intended for a new edition.

Muscle Memory, the sequel to The Spiral Cage, awaits a publisher.  We are trying to complete the work via Patreon:

Val Morrey
Yankee Doodles is the brainchild of Val Morrey, an American Illustrator living in England as a silly play on words. Art is a passion and is fueled by working at it every day. If you’ve ever listened to “Ten Thousand Hours” by Macklemore, you’ll know the lyric “A life lived for art is never a life wasted,” and never truer words were said.

Growing up an only child, art was the one thing that Val could always rely on and fall back to; art became a hobby that followed her through life. Now in her 30s, she has dedicated herself to being a full-time freelance illustrator and has recently had the opportunity to work with Daniel White and The Department of Ability as the comic’s colourist.

Typically, Val can be found anywhere the sunshine is and with a cup of proper English Tea in hand. There is still a place in her heart for Iced Tea, if anyone wants to send her some.

She can be reached at – and the website is currently under construction for relaunch.

Mike Mort
Twitter @MikeeMort

Mike Mort is 25 year old blogger, artist and activist living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is a Central New York resident with an interest in graphic design and all things social justice. Mike loves superheroes, sci-fi/fantasy, film and television.

Joseph Munisteri 

Joseph Munisteri is a founding board member of Youth Power! He is also a cosplayer who brings awareness to various topics via activism. He is extremely active in his community in an attempt to make everyone’s lives more awesome. He hopes one day to write a comic based upon the Access Avengers. Joe also owns a Giant Papier Mache Hulk and has presented at the New York Comic Con and at Syracuse University. Joe has a passion for bringing people together to create change.

Kate Corbett Pollack
Kate will receive her M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies from the School of Education at Syracuse University in May of 2017.  She has been drawing since she could pick up a pencil, and gravitated naturally towards the comic art medium, drawing throughout childhood, inspired by her favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County. Kate began her comic art career at age 11, drawing a monthly cartoon for InTown Magazine, in Eugene, Oregon. She continued this job until she was 14, and later resumed working for an offshoot of InTown Magazine called Comic News when she was 20, after graduating from art school in Utica, New York. Kate had a popular weekly strip in Comic News called Katewy: Comic News Volunteer. As a teenager, Kate developed the Katewy (pronounced Kate-wee) character, who is her alter-ego. Katewy, like Kate, is Deaf and wears hearing aids. Katewy also has invisible orthopedic problems and dyscalculia, like Kate. However, these disabilities are not a feature of every comic. Disability and Deafness are just a few of the many aspects of Katewy’s identity. Katewy manifests in many roles, including: Dr. Katewy, a pretentious archeologist; Katewy Worm, a giant worm who works in an office; the owner of a discount Russian import store; and a talk show host. Kate has undergraduate degrees in Fine Arts (Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute) and History (Hunter College). She is currently the Coordinator of the Disability Cultural Center at Syracuse University. Kate can be reached at:

John Renehan

Cartographer, Illustrator, and Author John Renehan began his artistic journey at the tender age of 12, his imagination and love of fantasy worlds pulling him towards a love of the arts. Starting as a comic strip artist and voice-over actor, he now focuses his efforts on his cartography; his commissions have been published multiple times.  His other work includes a novel, The Gatekeepers Realm, which is a saga due to be released later this year. John donates his spare time to The Adventures of Hydro Girl comic. In writing and illustrating the comic, he hopes that the efforts will promote greater awareness of hydrocephalus and inspire young children with the condition to be whoever they want to be despite the challenges that they may face.

Katie Tastrom
Katie Tastrom, MSW, Esq., is in massive debt from all the letters after her name. She is currently working at Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University as a Law Clerk and is grateful that her boss is understanding when she frequently needs to call in sick. Katie’s work has appeared all over the Internet including at The Establishment, XOJane, and The Body is Not an Apology. She is working on the next issue of Chronic Illness Grrl and is always trying to find new ways to wreak havoc from bed. You can contact her at  Chronic Illness Grrl: Issue 1: “Origin Story” is available online here.

Musical Performers

Sarah Renehan

Founder of The Brain Drain Project, hydrocephalus sufferer, Singer/Songwriter and Co-Writer and Colour Artist for The Adventures of Hydro Girl. Sarah was born with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and had her first brain surgery at just 4 weeks old. In 2011, she founded The Brain Drain Project, a website that provides support and raises funds for those suffering with hydrocephalus. Through talking to many people on the website, it was made clear that a lot of people with the condition, young and old, had been victims of bullying because of others’ responses to their hydrocephalus. These experiences inspired Sarah, along with her brother John to create Hydro Girl, as a symbol of hope and inspiration to those with the condition, and to let it be known that being different is not something to be ashamed of. It’s something to be proud of. When not working on the comic or for The Brain Drain Project, Sarah is also a full-time musician with her band, Calling Utopia. It was through doing these projects that she connected with Dan and Emily White, who also campaign for acceptance and inclusion for People with Disabilities. Emily also has hydrocephalus, and a friendship and willingness to help each other quickly formed. They have collaborated through Dan and Emily’s comic, The Department of Ability, by bringing music and the comic together through its theme song, which was written by Calling Utopia.

Jessica Renehan

Singer/Songwriter and guitarist for Calling Utopia. In the Renehan family tradition, Jess showed an early passion for music and a desire to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. Also a choir singer, Jess took up to songwriting in her teens. When life twists and turns, it’s always music that keeps her on the right road. Now, over ten years later, Jess is still as dedicated and determined as ever to help others in the only way she can, by spreading musical empowerment. Writing songs that are full of strength and overcoming life’s challenges, she hopes that those who listen to their music give people courage to be themselves.

Calling Utopia

Sisters. Two guitars, two attitudes, two minds and two voices in sync. Calling Utopia is a Pop/Rock band originally from the small town of Millicent, South Australia. Relocated to Melbourne in 2013, and have since built up a reputation for catchy, heartfelt songwriting and their powerful and melodic harmonies in their music. Enjoying success on America and New Zealand tours, they now have their sights set on a tour of the UK later this year. First, however, they will be heading back to the States to play at Syracuse University’s “Cripping” the Comic Con, celebrating and promoting disability in the media through comic books and music. They are also currently recording their 2nd EP with well-known producer David Carr.



Lucy Loo Wales

Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club

Syracuse Nerd

Syracuse University Bookstore


Weathered Heather

Wibbily Wobbly Timey Wimey

Youth Power!

A Word on “Cripping” the Comic Con

Our symposium “crips” the idea of a comic con by disrupting and redefining deviance, normalcy, wellness, health, and, of course, disability, in relation to a variety of social identities throughout our world.  “Nothing About Us Without Us” is the guiding principle of our work.

What “Cripping” Means



Disability Cultural Center

Syracuse University’s Disability Cultural Center (DCC) coordinates campus-wide social, educational, and cultural activities on disability issues for students, faculty, staff, and community members with and without disabilities. The DCC is a gathering place for all individuals who seek an inclusive and diverse environment where respect, appreciation for one’s identity, and cultural differences are of the utmost priority. The DCC sponsors a variety of programming that aims to heighten awareness and understanding, as well as to promote dialogue and learning, about disability rights as human rights and as forms of cultural diversity. The DCC serves as a resource for sharing information on media, periodicals and other readings, web sites, services, advocacy groups, and local, regional, national, and international organizations that focus on disability issues, including the history of disability, pedagogy and disability, and disability culture. S.U.’s DCC was the first of its kind in the United States to be located within a division of student affairs; it remains the only DCC directed by a full-time professional staff member.

Disability Student Union (DSU)

“We’re a student group comprised of people with and without disabilities of all kinds, interested in promoting disability culture` and identity.  ‘Disability’ is not a dirty word. We believe in the student voice. Join us and think differently, to leave this place a little nicer than we found it, or just to get in touch with your bad ‘crip’ self.”

Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC)

 The Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC) is an organization of Syracuse University students who are working to create and support a positive climate toward disability that values individual difference in all University settings. The BCCC takes an active role in advocating for changes in University policy and practice, including raising disability consciousness on campus and reshaping Syracuse University’s conception of disability, as well as improving reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and hiring faculty and staff members with disabilities.

Slutzker Center for International Services

The Slutzker Center for International Services (SCIS) is an administrative office of Syracuse University which has a 52 year history serving international students and scholars from all over the world.

The Center on Human Policy

The Center on Human Policy (CHP) is a Syracuse University based policy, research, and advocacy organization involved in the national movement to insure the rights of people with disabilities.

Office of Student Activities

We strive to provide opportunities for students to discover and engage their strengths, talents and passions through a fun and diverse environment; we empower students to put their learning into action on campus and in the community.

Office of Disability Services

The mission of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) is to engage the University Community to empower students, enhance equity and provide a platform for innovation and inclusion.


This symposium would not be possible without many people’s involvement and hard work! A thank you list will be posted on our website. Any accidental omissions are on Diane.

Very special thanks to TGP Nominal for podcasting the 2017 “Cripping” the Comic Con!

Meet the Access Avengers

About the Access Avengers: The Access Avengers is a team of multi-cultural, multi-gendered, and multi-ethnic Superheroes with Disabilities, who together assure that we live in an accessible world and seek justice.  They also join forces to disrupt the masculinist “sea of whiteness” and other problematic representations that are so common in mainstream comics and popular culture. To learn more about the Access Avengers, visit here.

Meet the Department of Ability

About the Department of Ability: The Department of Ability was born into Dan White’s world a few years after his daughter Emily was born. She stormed into the world with Spina Bifida and an insatiable appetite for life! However, searching for relevant superheroes for Emily, the family, and their new circle of friends, Dan found few superheroes with disabilities. He also noticed a lack of positive media coverage of disability — including of disabled kids. “GET CREATING, BIG FELLA!” Dan said to himself; soon thereafter, the superheroes arrived, each using their disability as a superpower! Born to be different. Born to save the world. To learn more about the Department of Ability, visit here.

Meet Hydro Girl

About Hydro Girl: Illustrator John Renehan and his sister Sarah created The Adventures of Hydro Girl in connection with The Brain Drain Project in order to raise awareness about living with hydrocephalus. Hydro Girl is a teenage girl with hydrocephalus, a life threatening medical condition that also gives her superpowers. Now, it is up to her and her friends to save the Brain Drain Universe from the villainous characters that appear throughout the comic book series.  For more information about Hydro Girl, visit here.


  • Interpreter Coordinator, Amy Sakellariou
  • Jim Brown
  • Sarah Korcz
  • Megan Libous
  • Amy Lynne
  • Kip Opperman
  • Jim Orr
  • Virginia Scarpino
  • Chelsea Sherwood
  • Liz Uhrinec


Keep informed and stay in contact for the 6th annual CripCon in 2018!


Twitter: @cripcon

Like us on Facebook: CrippingTheCon

OUR OWN ICONS! “Cripping” the Comic Con 2017

Celebrating Our 5th Anniversary!

Saturday, 4/22/17, 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

All scheduled symposium components will occur in the Schine Student Center at Syracuse University.  Our schedule is subject to change.  The program will also be shared on-site in hard copy.  

Art exhibit (Panasci), quiet and “low stim” room (Menschel Gallery), gaming room (302 Schine), and tabling area (approved vendors and info. tablers; Panasci) will be available throughout the day, pending tablers’ and others’ availability.

An American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation station will be available throughout the day (Panasci).

Autographs are currently scheduled to be available from artist Dan White (Department of Ability, United Kingdom), artist Gilles Stromberg (Access Avengers, U.S.), and musicians Sarah Renehan and Jessica Renehan (Calling Utopia, Australia), during times indicated, below.

Promotional materials, communication badges (on specialty lanyards!), accessibility resources, giveaways, and other surprises will be shared on-site.

As noted on our website, we are co-hosting a late night, encore screening of Disney / Pixar’s Finding Dory with Orange After Dark (Office of Student Activities), beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday, 4/21/17.  Screened in 304ABC Schine with open captions and audio descriptions of images.  American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided during the welcome and introduction prior to the film as well as during the discussion following the screening.  Inclusive snacks will be provided prior to the film, as well.

Check out our complete symposium program here.

9:00-9:45 am — On-Site Registration and Complimentary Breakfast Buffet (Panasci Lounge, 3rd floor, Schine)

9:45-10:00 am — Welcome to Our 5th ANNUAL CripCon! (304ABC Schine)


11:30 am-12:00 pm — Break, art exhibits, tabling, gaming, autographs (Panasci)

12:00-1:30 pm — Lunch on your own

1:30-3:00 pm — Workshops: Session One (304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine)

304A: Cosplay and Disabilities/Light Painting – with Joseph Munisteri, Nancy Amaro, and David Schlaich

304B: Create Your Own CripCon Mascot and Meet the Department of Ability – with Daniel White, Aimee White, and Emily White

304C: Breaking (?) Frame: Creating New “Crip” Spaces – with Don Carr, Sarah Redmore, and Collaborative Design M.F.A. Students

3:00-3:30 pm — Break, art exhibits, tabling, gaming, autographs (Panasci)

3:30-5:00 pm — Workshops: Session Two (304 A, B, and C – breakout rooms, Schine)

304A: The Block Party (Inclusive LEGO®) – with Nicole Wheatley

304B: Design Your Own Access Avenger – with Gilles Stromberg

304C: Breaking (?) Frame: Creating New “Crip” Spaces – with Don Carr, Sarah Redmore, and Collaborative Design M.F.A. Students

*2:30-6:30 pm* — ACCESSIBLE PHOTO BOOTH (Panasci)

5:00-5:30 pm — Break, art exhibits, tabling, gaming, autographs (Panasci)

5:30-7:00 pm — Complimentary Dinner Buffet (Panasci)

7:00-8:00 pm — Calling Utopia (LIVE STREAMED ROCK CONCERT; Q & A) (Schine Underground)

8:00-8:30 pm — Closing (Schine Underground)

“Cripping” the Comic Con 2017 is accessible by elevator. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided for the entire symposium. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided during the morning plenary session and the evening concert. We will be providing inclusive food options during both of our complimentary, catered buffets. Multi-gendered, accessible restroom options and single-gender, accessible restroom options will be available on-site. We strongly advise creating collaboratively a scent-free environment. Additional accommodations requests can be made (by 4/14/17) by using our online registration site. For more information regarding our commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please refer to Some Notes about Accessibility and Inclusion.

Please take a moment and view You Tube videos from “Cripping” the Comic Con! You can view these videos, embedded below for convenience, or visit the SUDCC YouTube Channel.

“Cripping” the Comic Con 2019 Plenary Panel

“Cripping” the Comic Con 2017 Morning Plenary Panel

“Cripping” the Comic Con 2017 Calling Utopia (Live Streamed Rock Concert; Q&A)

“Deaf-initely Ironic…? “Cripping” the Comic Con 2016

Introduction by Diane Wiener; Keynote by Matt & Kay Daigle, “How I Met That Deaf Guy. How I Met That Hearing Girl.” The entire keynote is presented in American Sign Language with English voice interpreting that is captioned.


Introduction by Diane Wiener, Keynote by Cece Bell, “Writing on My Own Behalf: The Creation of El Deafo and Its Impact on Myself and Others” (presented via Skype)

Evening Plenary Panel Presentation

Moderated by Diane R. Wiener


  • Matt and Kay Daigle, Creators of Webcomic That Deaf Guy
  • Kanisha Ffriend, Author, I, Too, Am a Dancer
  • Kate Pollack, Master’s Student, Cultural Foundations of Education and Disability Studies
  • Carlisle Robinson, Cartoonist and Creator of The Satrians
  • Gilles Stromberg, Co-creator and Illustrator of The Access Avengers


Game Over…? “Cripping” the Comic Con 2015

Introductory remarks by Dr. Diane Wiener, Symposium Co-Creater, and Symposium keynote by Angela Smith, “Lost Limbs: Disabled Bodies as Digital Effects”

Symposium keynote by Alec Frazier, “Without Fear: The First Autistic Superhero,” with introduction by Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Symposium Co-Creator

Symposium keynote by Gilles Stromberg, “The Journey Towards Meeting (and Making) the Access Avengers”

Take Away the Suit, and What are You? “Cripping” the Comic Con 2014

Introductory and welcoming remarks by Diane Wiener and Planning Committee Members

Symposium keynote by William Peace, “‘The Walking Dead’ and Assisted Suicide”;

Symposium keynote by Becky Curran, “The Ultimate ”Mainstreaming’: Disability & Mainstream Media”;

Zombie 101 Workshop

Plenary presentation by Dr. Kate Deibel and Day ‘Deena’ Al-Mohamed, “Developing a Disability Version of the Bechdel Test”

Fantastic! Heroic! Disabled? “Cripping” the Comic Con (2013)

Introductory and welcoming remarks by Diane Wiener and Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, and symposium keynote by José Alaniz (“Disability, Visuality, and the Silver Age Superhero”)

Plenary presentation by Day ‘Deena’ Al-Mohamed, “From the Field: An Examination of Responses from Mainstream Writers, Artists, and Producers on Disability.”

Post-symposium session with Ari Ne’eman and Day ‘Deena’ Al-Mohamed, “The Future of Disability Rights Activism in (Comics) Fandom”

About the Access Avengers: The Access Avengers is a team of multi-cultural, multi-gendered, and multi-ethnic Superheroes with Disabilities, who together assure that we live in an accessible world and seek justice.  They also join forces to disrupt the masculinist “sea of whiteness” and other problematic representations that are so common in mainstream comics and popular culture.

Access Avenger Janice

Access Avenger Janice


Age: 43. Joined the team: 2013. Powers: Dimension and Time Travel, Martial Arts. Bio: Warped into the future from the 1960s with her recently discovered powers, her beehive hairdo, and a pleather onesie, Janice is energized from her activist work back in her time, and ready to help the future that is now! Her retractable cane also acts as a bō, as she is a 10th Dan black belt.  Janice is proud of her Latinx heritage and is in ongoing negotiation with her parents’ Southern U.S. roots.  Image description: A large, light-skinned woman of color with cat eyeglasses and a brown beehive hairdo, Janice is wearing a full shiny latex, dark grey bodysuit with sleeves reaching all the way to her wrists.  On her latex bodysuit in the square middle of her chest is the Access Avengers logo in gray.  She’s wearing a black belt with a seatbelt-like mechanism in the center.  She is holding a bō diagonally across her body in a fighting position.  Her lips are coming together as if she is ready to smile.

Access Avenger Skipper

Access Avenger Skipper


Age: unknown. Joined the team: 2013. Powers: unknown. Bio:  As Janice’s loyal service animal, it is unclear if Skipper has changed as a result of traveling through time. Regardless, he is tirelessly dedicated to Janice and to the Access Avengers. Image description: A small and fluffy, black and white border collie.  Mouth agape in excitement, Skipper is mid-jump toward the audience.

Access Avenger Trevor

Access Avenger Trevor


Age: 23. Joined the team: 2013. Powers: Super Technical Intelligence, Engineering Prowess. Bio: Trevor returned home disabled after doing a tour in Iraq, having served as a member of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and began working for a large weapons manufacturing company. He left this industry in order to dedicate himself full-time to pursuing accessibility as a form of social justice. Trevor is a work-in-progress when it comes to his white male privilege. Image description: A muscular, light-skinned white man with a duck-butt blonde hairdo, Trevor is seated in a long-distance, athletic wheelchair. His black and white wheelchair has teal accents that are the same color as the Access Avengers logo on the front of his uniform. He has a gray, full latex bodysuit. Trevor’s legs end at his knees.  His friends probably would say that he looks like a younger version of Anderson Cooper.

Access Avenger Alexxus/Visor

Access Avenger Alexxus/Visor


Age: 20. Joined the team: 2013. Powers: Super Speed, Invincibility. Bio: Also known as “Visor,” Alexxus developed hir powers during adolescence in Harlem, having initially hid them due to a fear of exploitation and unacceptance. After meeting Janice and the Access Avengers, Alexxus began using hir super speed and invincibility to support the empowerment of hir local community and the Access Avengers. Alexxus is very open about being a Black, Genderqueer, DeafBlind superhero.  Image description: Alexxus is a muscular, androgynous, dark-skinned person of color of average height, wearing a 360° circular visor that goes around the closely cropped hair on their head. They are wearing a full gray latex bodysuit. On the left and right sides of their chest are images of two American Sign Language (ASL) fingerspelling hands denoting “AA” (Access Avengers). Their gloves, their glasses, their boots, and the ASL images on their chest are dark pink. They are hunched over in a ready-to-run position. Alexxus is signing “C” (for “cripping”) in an assertive manner with hir right hand behind hir.

Access Avenger Fiery

Access Avenger Fiery


Age: 21. Joined the team: 2013. Powers: Flight, Invoking Fire, Telepathy. Bio: Thought missing after taking part in a privately-funded space mission to Mercury, Fiery came back mysteriously onto the scene, spouting fire from her hands and eyes, flying through the air, and with a keen knowledge of others’ thoughts and feelings. Fiery is proud of her Dominican American heritage. Image description: A tall, feminine, dark-skinned woman of color, Fiery is wearing a sleeveless, full latex, dark grey to black bodysuit that shows off her “sick guns” (arms). Her long hair, flowing up toward the sky, is the color of fire. Her eyes emanate a white burning brightness, the same as the sun. The front of Fiery’s bodysuit / uniform has a red Braille “F” (for Fiery).

Access Avenger Dalton

Access Avenger Dalton


Age: 55. Joined the team: 2014. Powers: Super Strategic Intelligence, Innate Electricity. Bio: At the HQ of the Access Avengers, Dalton works to ensure, in every way he is able, that his fellow teammates are up to speed and have all of the information necessary to get any job done. When Dalton’s electrical powers are activated, his neuron arm tattoo appears. Dalton is a leader in the international neurodiversity pride movement. Dalton is Jewish and bleeds orange without apology. Image description: Standing tall, wearing a white dress shirt and gray slacks, Dalton is a middle-aged man with orange skin and bright blue hair and beard. On his shirt pocket is the Access Avengers logo in bronze hue. He has bushy blue eyebrows and a very stern look. On his shirt collar is a grey infinity symbol representing neurodiversity.

Access Avenger Al


Age: 20. Joined the team: 2016. Powers: Animal Husbandry, Survival. Bio: Living in the Pacific Northwest near Yosemite, Al grew to love nature and all the animals therein. The only problem was, he wasn’t able to access the trails and camps he wanted to go to! Al joins the Access Avengers in order to make nature more accessible for all. Both he and his owl companion use an Assistive Device on his Falconry glove, typing to communicate with each other and the world. Al is a first-generation Vietnamese-American who is happy to have joined the team in April, as it celebrates AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month (and in 2016, the Centennial of the U. S. National Park Service). Al is a vibrant member of the CP (Cerebral Palsy) pride movement.  He seeks to raise awareness about mental health issues within refugee communities. Image description: Seated in his power chair, Al emits astuteness and a wise confidence. Wearing a light grey, all latex bodysuit with sleeves that go all the way to the wrists, his uniform bears a dark grey Access Avengers logo at the center of his thin, angular body. The zipping mechanism for his bodysuit goes around the logo. Al is of Asian descent and has a light complexion. His gelled hair looks like a great horned owl’s ears.  The brown Falconry glove worn on Al’s right arm includes a high-tech keyboard.

Background: The Access Avengers, and the team’s logo, were designed by amazing and super-talented Syracuse University alum, Gilles L. Stromberg, especially for “Cripping” the Comic Con.  For more detailed information on how the Access Avengers rose to prominence in 2013 and have continued their work, ever since, please access Gilles’s 2015 symposium keynote address, “Don’t Call Me an Ally: The Journey Toward Meeting the Access Avengers.”  Gilles provides background into the creation of the Access Avengers, and how Gilles’s journey through comic books informed the Avengers’ creation, along with Gilles’s understanding of the importance of representation within media.  In their presentation, Gilles also provides a critical analysis of the word “ally” and the idea of “intersectional activism and advocacy.”

Gilles L. Stromberg’s 2015 “Cripping” the Comic Con keynote address (with an introduction by Diane R. Wiener) can be found on the Syracuse University Disability Cultural Center’s YouTube channel: (captioned).