Back in 2014, we highlighted a childrens’ graphic novel, ” El Deafo”, created by Cece Bell, to highlight her own superpowers (strengths) when navigating the world as a child with hearing aids.
We love El Deafo as a rare depiction of our childhood selves, navigating the hearing world as speaking deaf children while addressing the daily situations and challenges that crop up. Like us, Cece Bell wanted to be seen and liked as a child in her own right, and not to be treated as a deaf child – which happens too often.
For a recent Apple TV+ production of the graphic novel, Cece Bell worked with Ireland-based animation house, Lighthouse Studios, to convey the daily experience of living with hearing difficulties.
The Author’s Authentic Voice
In media representation terms, it’s fantastic to see how receptive both the Apple TV+ and Lighthouse Studio teams rightly were, to Cece Bell’s unique input to the animated series to jointly achieve an authentic, human-focused audio-visual three-part series.
With the 2014 book in cartoon form, animation was the next step in a pandemic. To this end, Bell teamed with TV writer, Will McRobb, and both became executive producers for the Apple TV+ series.
Accessible Remote Working
In this creative, remote US – Irish production, the El Deafo series for Apple TV+ was bolstered by pandemic-era advances in accessibility for virtual teams. Bell for one, might have used video call captions and written notes during production, particularly when devising the El Deafo series’ sound design with engineers.
Forbes Magazine has an in-depth write-up on the El Deafo animation for Apple TV+, with insights to Bell’s experiences of working with distributed production teams and audience feedback, including deaf children who personally identify with the finished series.