Comic-Con brings some of the most recognized comic book artists to San Diego. This year, a truly jaw-dropping artist and writer is Larime Taylor, who uses his mouth instead of his hands to create his masterpieces.
“I was born with Arthrogryposis,” Taylor, of Top Cow Productions, explained. “It basically affects the development of the joints in utero, meaning your arms and legs don’t develop properly. So I draw with my mouth.”
Taylor has been drawing with his mouth since he was a child. He says he discovered his talent when he used to draw for fun as a kid, just like everyone else.
From the start, his unique ability has never failed to bring in a crowd of enthusiastic spectators, which Taylor said helped inspire him to pursue art as a career.
“People generally tend to be surprised,” Taylor noted. “If I draw here at the booth, a crowd will form and people will start to watch and I like that. But it does seem to catch people off guard.”
Refusing to let his disability limit his talent and his passion, Taylor perfected his craft amidst the challenges. He said that because of his disability, he did not have the luxury of learning in conventional ways.
Unlike most artists, Taylor could not look at a model standing in front of him while simultaneously drawing, which posed great challenges in his art education.
“When I draw my face is two inches from the paper,” Taylor said. “I learned by basically reading ‘How to Draw’ books.”
But Taylor embraced the challenge. He found ways to produce quality work, eventually creating his own comic book series, “A Voice in the Dark.”
For a while, Taylor became the master of pen and paper. He reached artistic abilities paralleling those of many other comic book artists, but this was no easy task. Taylor was forced to draw in uncomfortable, hunched positions while he continually shifted the paper and switched pens.
Five years ago, he was given a Wacom Cintiq tablet. With the tablet, Taylor has moved into the digital age and he is able to now draw with much greater ease. He said the technology changed his work, his career and his life.
“It’s digital, so I draw directly on the computer screen now,” he explained. “That tablet made it possible for me to do what I want to do.”
Taylor works with Top Cow Productions, a company that publishes his comic book series. Taylor’s publisher, Matt Hawkins, believes that Taylor’s addition to Top Cow has only been a benefit to the company and that his disability has in no way limited his abilities.
“We never really factored that negatively,” Hawkins said. “If anything, it was just a triumph of spirit. It was almost encouraging. It was a plus for us because the work was good and the story was great.”
Taylor’s employment means more to him than a successful contract and a rewarding paycheck.
“I can be self-sufficient—I have a possible career,” Taylor said. “I have something that I can do in life that will help me pay the bills and get somewhere. I may have a future.”
But Taylor hopes that his story of success touches the lives of more than those he works with. He shares his journey in hopes that others with disabilities will see potential to rise above their challenges.
“If me having done this makes it easier for them because I’ve opened some doors, great,” Taylor said. “Do whatever you can. Whatever your skill is, figure out a way to do it in a way that helps you. Don’t shy away from that.”