A Conversation with Mr.Daniele Rossi about the story behind his famous character Franky Banky and Comic Books. He also explained about his Ti-Ger analogy and his journey with stammering. He shared his views about acceptance and social challenges faced by a person who stammers.He explained what makes stuttering cool and the problems faced during Job Interviews. The message is clear ” It’s Okay to Stutter”.
Daniele Rossi is a digital strategist and cartoonist living in Toronto. Stuttering and drawing comics since he was 4 years old, Daniele grew up to eventually produce the Stuttering is Cool podcast and book of the same name with the latter featuring comics starring Franky Banky, a cartoon fox who stutters. An active participant in the global stuttering community, Daniele co-founded Stutter Social, an online community facilitating group video chats for people who stutter all over the world; is an advisory member to the board of the Canadian Stuttering Association; and draws Franky Banky comics for the Association bègaiement communication quarterly newsletter.
You can visit his website to know more about his work –
Here are the questions and answers during this conversation.
Bhupendra: How did Franky Banky Character come to your mind?
Daniele: It comes to my mind around the ’90s when the internet came. I had a friend in Europe who asked me to design a cartoon character for a shopping website and he wanted a fox character but it’s hard for me to design a fox. I couldn’t design a fox but this project didn’t end happening, for a few years I kept the challenge to draw the fox character. One night I’m doodling and it just came. (Part -1 of my answer)
After I started my podcast in 2007 there are comics I do but I want something more established. So, I get back to the fox character. I can picture him being stuttering Fox for my character in comics. That’s how it born, the only thing is he didn’t have a name. So, like the design, it was a hard time for me to find the name. I thought Francis, Francis Fox which don’t make any sense. One night my niece who is 3 years old and she is learning rhyming words in school and he introduced to a family friend and his name is frank. She burst out laughing and started saying Franky Banky…. Franky Banky; and Right then I got the name Franky Banky.
Bhupendra: Why Franky Banky is a Fox?
Daniele: This Fox looks some scarry. Every time I draw him, it gives me the expression of a worried person. I draw Franky banky having a positive attitude towards the stuttering, that’s the all branding around Franky Banky.
Bhupendra: How do you draw your characters?
Daniele: I’m from the GenX days. I draw with paper-pencil, Markers, Photoshop, Scan, I-Pad. I love the tactile feeling of drawing with pencil, paper & eraser.
Bhupendra: What is Ti-Ger analogy of Stuttering?
Daniele: Tiger analogy is invented by one of my friends Dr Greg Snyder. He is a stuttering researcher in united states. One day he is at a zoo ( At Zoo you have to pay a fee and you’re allowed to play with a baby tiger), every time he turned his back on the baby tiger, The baby tiger tries to pounce on him and take him down. But when he faces the Tiger so it behaves well and let him do anything. So, he thought this works like stuttering. That if a Tiger represents stuttering then when you turn your back on stuttering maybe switching your words, avoiding situations even denying that you stutter. Then stuttering pounce on you and it takes control over you. But when you face your fears of stuttering openly the tigers get down you have control over him. You can stutter on your terms. Just tell I stutter and it’s totally okay. When you open about your stutter people see you in a more positive light because you’re okay with your stutter and brave enough to accept it. There is a reason why it is a tiger character. As Fox is orange and the tiger is also orange. But there are different species of Fox present fortunately I drawn a Black Fox.
( visit http://stutteringiscool.com/ to know more about Ti-Ger analogy)
Bhupendra: How you started Stutter Social?
Daniele: I’m so glad that we started the stutter social. we started in 2011. I was at the National Stuttering Association (NSA) Conference in the U.S. and I mate a new friend there, David Resnick. We both share the same knowledge, history and experience in Digital Technology. He already has a conversation with Mitch Trichon. The expertise of Mitch is research on the effectiveness of a support group for people who stutters. So, Mitch and David had a conversation about having a conversation similar to this conference. So as per Mitch, group video chat is a good idea. As we enjoy our stammering when we are in the conference because we are the majority. But once we leave it’s depressing. So, group video chat is a platform for continuing those conference feel. This was around 2011 right after the launch of Google Plus. First, we tried with skype and then Google hangouts, rest is history.
Know more about stutter social – https://www.stuttersocial.com/about.php
Bhupendra: What are the social challenges you faced because of stammering?
Daniele: Everything like answering questions in class, raising my hand, ordering food, Conference call on work, Speaking with people with authority.
Bhupendra: What makes stuttering cool?
Daniele: 1. I’m not the Only One.
2. When you mention you stutter look at people they feel you’re brave and awesome.
What’s not cool – Misconceptions about stuttering, Negative feedback we get. When you get a support group and get to know you’re not the only one there are millions like you. Encouraging each other, Making fun of ourselves, Meeting up in person make it cool.
Bhupendra: Do stammering makes a person creative?
Daniele: Why Not? During ISAD Online Conference there is a section on artworks where people are making videos, songs, comics. Making a creative element around you helps. There are lots of people who stutter who are musicians, writer, singer.
Bhupendra: How you get inspiration for the characters you make?
Daniele: I get it from many different places. Sometimes an idea just pops to my brain. My ideas come from my own experiences, other comics, movies, TV shows, other people stuttering experiences. I’m also working on a Graphic Novel. My ideas come from so many different places.
Bhupendra: What do you think about the acceptance of stammering?
Daniele: Acceptance is the greatest thing ever happened to me. In 2007 I started my podcast when I always think stuttering is bad. but when I started disclosing my stutter and get to know about the people who stutter have friends who stutter. Acceptance is a very controversial word because it has two different meanings or interpretations; It can be interpreted ad it’s fine I stutter, take over my life I’m not going to bother or try. Another way It can be, stuttering is something just I do like it could be a weight problem, height problem, health issue or something else. But it will not stop me to achieve something in life, It opens up the conversations.
” Simply accepting it, your life gets better” as you more have space in your head to worried about other stuff. Even in psychology terms Acceptance have different meanings. We need to find another word for acceptance. Just be okay with stuttering.
Bhupendra: How we can aware people about stammering?
Daniele: Going back to creativity and Digital tools, anybody can use them. It’s all up to us who stutter to spread awareness. We are the experts in the stuttering and also we’re the one who is most passionate about it. Getting outside the bubble of stammering and spreading awareness about stammering in the world is important. I’m thinking about creating a different website to aware people. So, use talents you have to aware people about stuttering. As you don’t know people you’re going to touch or encourage. Like if you can stammer so, I too can.
Bhupendra: What you think about job interviews and stammering?
Daniele: It’s difficult for even people who don’t stutter. The thing in life we have control over and things on which we don’t have control over. I don’t have any control over the employer what he thinks of my stammering. That person might be thinking I can’t hire him because he stutters, But I have no way of knowing the reasons. Fortunately, we have things under our control. Like telling them I just happen to stutter, my stutter will never go in way of my job performance. Mentioning stammering in CV is a personal opinion. You can share your Voluntary experience or Co-ordinating any event in the CV.
Bhupendra: What are your Other hobbies?
Daniele: Going to the Gym, Nature Walks, Travelling, Reading Fiction books and Graphic novels for kids, Listening to music and public podcasts.
Dhruv: How we can get out our True Stuttering?
Daniele: What I heard is Graceful Stuttering.I’m in control let the stutter come out. As you’re not hiding your stuttering still letting it come out. We seem to have two types of stuttering thoughts on the internet where it’s like; Stuttering openly is wrong. You must control, practice every day. Accepting it you have defeated it.
An SLP told to me nobody talks about the middle ground; There is a middle ground. I’m still fearing of judgments of others and it’s okay as we are human. You are not always superman and it’s okay. Old habits die really hard over the year. The world still didn’t understand stuttering. People can understand wheelchairs because they can see it but we still don’t understand stuttering, we need awareness. It’s okay to go covert once in a while. I will try next time. It’s okay!
Dhruv: We say in TISA by Dr Sachin ” Accept stammering but don’t accept Poor Communication “
Daniele: This gets back to our earlier conversation ” It’s not how we say but what we say”
Dhruv: Exactly; Good communication is also sometimes how you say it like Eye Contact, Tone, Body language.
Daniele: Eye Contact is all about making the connection. It’s all you sharing the vulnerability, It makes the stronger connection with the person and we stammer more confidently. Even we’re dying inside, we want to hide it still we are appearing confident.
Still, the world doesn’t have stuttering awareness yet.