Cartoonist with ALS uses eye gaze-tracking technology in order to continue creating.

I discovered Athens-based cartoonist Patrick Dean through Devlin Thompson, owner of the celebrated mainstay comics shop and weirdo refuge Bizarro Wuxtry. I became an instant fan of Patrick's loose and lively, monster-populated, comics work, including some incredible signage for his former day job. Dean is also one of the organizers of Fluke, the annual Athens comics and zine fest, and had a regular strip in the local alt-weekly Flagpole.

In 2018, Patrick was diagnosed with the degenerative neuromuscular disease ALS. Throughout his ordeal, which has included loss of speech and the ability to walk among other challenges, Dean continues to produce extraordinary work. While adapting to new physical limitations, he has had to ditch working with quill and ink in favor of felt pens. When he began to lose control in his arms, he jerry-rigged a sock glove that allows him to still use a pen. In anticipation of the day that he will lose the ability to hold a pen as well, he's been working to master eye gaze technology. Followers of his work on Instagram can see the progress he's made using this unfamiliar and imprecise technology, which works by shining infrared into the eye and measuring reflected light with an optical sensor. The software then translates eye movements into lines on the screen in real time.

Shortly before his diagnosis, Patrick finished his first graphic novel, Eddie's Week, a surrealist comedic noir story published by Birdcage Bottom Books. Pick up a copy from them and check out a gallery of his work on his Instagram page.

Interview with Patrick Dean with Eleanor Davis, Robert Newsome and Hillary Brown.