Comic-Con: Fantastic and empowered

July 25, 2009 | 12:43 a.m.

The convention draws many people with disabilities. They say the subject matter
draws them and that the staff provides for their needs.

If you look closely at some of the most popular comic book and collectible
characters featured at Comic-Con International in San Diego, you notice some
unexpected similarities. “X-Men’s” Professor Charles Xavier uses a wheelchair.
“Daredevil’s” Matt Murdock is blind. “Iron Man’s” Tony Stark doesn’t have a
healthy heart.

But it’s not just the superheroes who are living with
disabilities. All around the San Diego Convention Center are scores of others
whose bodies are not fully functional, and many of them are navigating
Comic-Con’s cavernous exhibit halls in wheelchairs.

“You can be someone you are not in real life,” said Virginia Baker, a
62-year-old fan of the World
of Warcraft online video game
and manga (Japanese comic books). Because of
severe knee problems, the San Diego resident has used a wheelchair for more than
seven years and was attending Comic-Con for the third time. “You can feel like
you can be one of them — you have legs! — and you can become a warrior,” she
said of the appeal of fantasy gaming.

Read the full story here

— John Horn

Photo: Melissa Eckardt, 28, has muscular dystrophy. She’s a fan of Second Life and of
Comic-Con’s services. Credit: Spencer Weiner / The Times

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