We all know a “Little Billy”, that kid who would make a scooter out of a circular saw or the kid who just cannot stop pushing the buttons.
Name one cartoon character who has ADHD, or Tourette Syndrome, or any Special Needs. If you said Bart Simpson you would be on the right track. That’s something award winning cartoonist, Chance Raspberry, would know a lot about.
He is the Lead Character Layout Artist Animator for “The Simpsons”. Did you know that he also has Tourette Syndrome?
Chance didn’t know he had Tourette Syndrome until he was diagnosed when he was 8. Until then his parents just knew their kid broke the family VCR by pausing it for hours on end to draw images from his favorite cartoons.
How else could he copy the images from Disney’s “Sleepy Hollow” into an old notebook? He would also sit over the desk in his room, drawing pictures of drawing Simpsons and random Disney characters from the Silly Symphonies shorts again, and again, and again.
The show will explore in full in an honest way how a family that is dealing with this goes through it, how they’re affected. Just because we’re different, it doesn’t mean we’re broken. ~ Chance Raspberry
Tourette Syndrome is a nervous system disorder that involves making uncontrollable repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics), such as repeatedly blinking the eyes, shrugging shoulders, or blurting out words or sounds. There is a misconception in the media that the blurting out is always profanity. There are more than 200,000 US cases reported per year. Like ADHD it can’t be cured but the symptoms can be alleviated with medication or psychological therapies.
In 2008 Chance won a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on “The Simpsons” along with his co-workers. He was only 28 at the time. That is when he knew he had to help other kids just like him, kids with special needs, know that they all had special gifts to give to the world.
That is how “Little Billy” came into being.
The promo clip that I saw on an Upworthy article recently shows Little Billy flying through the air after turning a circular saw into a motorcyle… and busting through the front door… which hits his already bandaged dad in the head. As his parents are arguing over whether their little boy is dangerous or not.
(I think we are to assume that this isn’t the first time something like this happened.)
I could totally identify with that! The parents arguing over their son’s diagnosis. How the diagnosed special needs would affect his life. And their home life. The little boy losing himself in cartoons and old shows on TV, surrounded by all of his stuffed animals because real life hurt too much.
And drawing because there he could create his own world.
Yep. Yeah. Little Billy and my son are so much alike in a lot of ways.
That’s why I had to reach out to Chance. I told him I am so excited about this new series. The drawing is amazing and the story line hits home for me. I am going to guess this is something you can relate to as well.
Little Billy is the world’s first and only animated series about life with special needs. All special needs. Punky is about (or focused on) Down Syndrome only. Little Billy features characters with many different nuerodiversities, including Down Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, OCD, Autism, and more. The best part is that Billy himself has a fictitious condition, thereby enabling him to universally represent the entire special needs community. No other show in the world has ever done this and even if someone else beats me to it now, I’ve put it on record here (and all over the web) first.
As frustrating as TS can be, it can also work FOR you and be your “super power.” I channeled my excess energy into drawing, animation, art, and film, and that not only helped my tics and friendships – it also taught and granted me the focus required to master animation and make Little Billy! always remember you have family and friends who love and support you very much (including here at Little Billy.) Love them back — I wouldn’t be where I am today without mine.
Bose, T. (2016, December 2). A ’Simpsons’ animator’s real-life struggle inspired a cartoon for kids with disabilities. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from upworthy, http://www.upworthy.com/a-simpsons-animators-real-life-struggle-inspired-a-cartoon-for-kids-with-disabilities
Little Billy’s parents are just like me and RestaurantMan after we got the diagnosis.
When he was asked by a Facebook follower about the highly aggressive, unpleasant, and hateful tone of Billy’s parents Chance had this to say.
“I really appreciate your kind words and enthusiasm. I feel you may be overlooking the priority here. Life gets messy. It’s not always fun and games, especially when you’re dealing with a neurodiversity in the family. To never show Billy’s parents disagreeing or arguing would be irresponsible and inaccurate of me as an artist and narrator.
The priority is keeping the series believable and honest. I don’t wish to pander, patronize, or talk down to anyone by sugarcoating the facts. That said, I am balancing all the struggles with loving moments like the one featured before the scene you’re referring to. The moment where Billy’s dad sees his mom is frightened and takes her hand. Billy’s parents are united, even when they disagree.
The only reason his dad gets so upset with his mom in that scene is because he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with their son and is tired of everyone suggesting Billy is dangerous — then, of course, he gets clobbered. There’s a LOT more animation on the way that will really expand on these characters (it just takes a really long time: 24 drawings per second per moving object.)
Please stick around and watch for more before you make up your mind.”
How you can support Chance and Little Billy.
I plan on doing just that! What about you? If you could make sure there is one topic you hope Chance Raspberry covers in this animated show what would it be?
You can be a part of Little Billy’s Patreon fan club. For as little as $1 a month you get:
- An official VIP subscription to Little Billy’s Newsletter!
- A private VIP link to stream completed installments of Little Billy
- A public acknowledgement on Little Billy’s Facebook Page
- Chance and Billy’s endless gratitude for your support
There are other levels all the way up to $30. Of course, the higher up you go the more awesome things you get! I personally want one of these nifty neat-o swivel card doodads.
You can follow Little Billy’s adventures on Facebook, too! If you are already logged in to Facebook just click on this button.
P.S. As I was doing research for this article I found a post of Chance doing a video call with Matthew Bartlett and Chris Walker. They both have Tourette Syndrome. Then Chance drew a picture of Matthew and his dog, Hadley, that he now keeps in his locker at school.
Chance Raspberry is a celebrity, with a special need, who gives back, and gives back big. Now that’s our kind of celebrity. Try not to watch this without tissues. I’m just sayin’. Published with permission from Jackie Bartlett, Matthew’s mom.