Matt Fraction didn’t just create Hawkeye #19, the critically acclaimed issue that featured mostly sign language thanks to hearing loss suffered (again) by Clint Barton, out of whole cloth. A real life mother and daughter from Utah helped provide the inspiration.
The Salt Lake Tribune has the full story on Rachel Coleman, host of a show for hearing-impaired viewers called “Signing Time,” and her daughter Leah, who is deaf. After meeting in person two years ago, Fraction told Coleman that he would write Hawkeye’s previous disability — he lost his hearing once before while using a sonic arrow to defeat the villain Crossfire — into a new story.
Fraction made good on his word in Hawkeye #19 with a huge assist from artist David Aja, whose effort to draw the numerous sign language panels throughout the story was said to be a Herculean one. Much of the rest of the Tribune story focuses on how effective the technique was in simulating what people with hearing loss go through, sometimes only catching bits and pieces of conversation the rest of us take for granted if they don’t concentrate on lip-reading or signing.
It’s an excellent read just like the issue it discusses, and it’s always awesome to learn about real life people who get woven into the fabric of great comic book stories.