El Deafo Extras: Childhood photos through the ages

24 Aug

One of the trickier things about illustrating El Deafo was that I had to age the main character as she journeyed through elementary school. Luckily, the main character in the book is me, so I had some good photo reference to use.

I featured a couple of these photos in a previous post, but here they are again, with their matching comic-Cece interpretation:

Preschool Cece, before illness and hearing aids and superpowers (except for the superpower of snot and cuteness)

Preschool Cece, before illness and hearing aids and subsequent superpowers (unless you’re counting the superpowers of snot and cuteness)…

Preschool Cece in El Deafo

…and preschool Cece in the book.

Right after I get my first hearing aid

Right after I got my first hearing aid…


…and here’s when I try on that same hearing aid in the book.

First grade. (The world really was rose-colored back then)...

First grade. (The world really was rose-colored back then)…

...first grade in book.

…first grade in the book.

...second grade. That's my street-tough look.

Second grade. That’s my street-tough look. I ended up glossing over second grade in the book, so no corresponding drawing of me from that time. Rats!

Third grade. This is the picture featured in the back of the book...

Third grade, I think. None of these photos were labeled! Anyway, this is the picture featured in the back of the book…

...third grade (and Girl Scouts!) in the book.

…and here’s third grade (and Girl Scouts!) in the book.


Here’s fourth-grade me in the book; I couldn’t find any fourth-grade photo reference. So I’m winging it here.

Fifth grade! I turned 11 in this photo. Granny Bell! She made Miss Bunn for me, an all-around ideal grandmother.

Fifth grade! I turned 11 in this photo; the candles don’t lie. I’ve got glasses. And there’s Granny Bell! She made Miss Bunn for me, and was an all-around perfect grandmother…


…fifth grade in the book. This is as old as I get in El Deafo (but alas, not in real life). I’m 43 now, so hard to believe sometimes…

...because I generally feel more like this most days.

…because I generally feel more like this on most days. Confirmation dress + beanie with propeller = A Good Look.

Thanks for reading! Only nine more days until the book comes out!

5 Responses to “El Deafo Extras: Childhood photos through the ages”

  1. Margie Jackson August 25, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    Love the photos. And you’re right, Granny Bell WAS the perfect grandmother! We went to Orlean today and ‘saw’ her. 🙂

  2. Wendy Smith August 27, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I just read a review of El Deafo in the New York Times Book Review today and I was compelled to go on line and read everything else I could about it and you! My son, Milo just turned 8 years old and is starting the 3rd grade on the day your book is being released. He is a great kid, identified as “talented and gifted”, with congenital mod to severe bilateral hearing loss. He wears bilateral hearing aids which are fortunately a lot smaller than the Sonic Ear but he does have an FM system and can identify with your “character’s” super power of hearing everything his teacher does (when she forgets to mute the mic). The thing that Milo loves most in the world is reading (he read the whole Harry Potter series including all of the extra books this summer, as well as 14 books from the Oregon Battle of the Books list). When I showed him the Book Review tonight, he laughed and said that El Deafo (he’s in a Spanish Immersion program so he pronounced it “el day-ah-foe”) sounded really funny and he was excited to read it. Just went on Amazon to buy it!! I only wish they had the hardcover version as this book sounds like a keeper for our family. Thank you for writing!!

    • Cece Bell August 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Wendy, thank you so much for writing! Milo sounds like the greatest kid. I hope he’ll enjoy the book, and you, too…my mom is a major player in it, just like you are probably a major player in Milo’s life. I love his pronunciation of “Deafo”—I hadn’t thought of that! I’m quite nervous releasing this book into the world, but I’m hopeful that kids of all walks of life will dig it. Thanks so much for getting a book and for commenting. Means a lot. Many good wishes to you, and especially to Milo. Please tell him hi for me. We are multi-generational soul mates!

  3. Sonora Pauley March 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    I know I am on a Granny Bell kick, but I just found this pic. I was sitting with my reading group discussing your book and our One Book One School project and bragging about your grandma being my first grade teacher and there she is. Now I am crying my eyes out. Thank you for including this picture. I do not have a picture of my favorite teacher, but my wonderful memories will always live in my heart and mind!. I love seeing her…….Mrs. Claus

    • Cece Bell March 14, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Awwww….you are the BEST! I’m so glad we have this connection!

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