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Author, Advocate Who Stutters to Launch Inspirational Comic Book at Monday Event

Published on Saturday, February 10, 2024 | 5:36 am
 

Maya Chupkov, a Burbank native and the innovative mind behind the Proud Stutter podcast, is making waves with her latest endeavor — a comic book dedicated to shedding light on the stuttering experience. 

Chupkov, alongside Proud Stutter’s board member Julian Benavidez and illustrator Indy Ho, aims to liberate and represent the stuttering community through this unusual medium. The self-published comic book, titled “My Stutter: Life of Verbal Turbulence,” will be unveiled at a launch at Octavia’s Bookshelf in Pasadena on February 12th at 6 p.m. 

The event will bring together people from the Los Angeles stuttering community to share their stories and experiences.

Growing up feeling isolated and ashamed of her speech, Chupkov’s journey from avoiding situations that might expose her stutter to becoming a beacon of hope for others like her is nothing short of inspiring. Her transformation began during the solitude of the pandemic, when she sought a creative outlet to cope with job dissatisfaction and depression. 

Encouraged by her husband and joined by a friend, Chupkov ventured into podcasting — a decision that led to the creation of Proud Stutter, a platform that quickly resonated with listeners worldwide.

The Octavia’s Bookshelf event, curated by Chupkov, is more than just a book launch. It is a celebration of diversity and resilience, offering a space for people who stutter and their loved ones to connect and understand each other better. 

By bringing the stuttering experience to the forefront, Chupkov hopes to foster a greater societal understanding and acceptance.

The comic book incorporates personal stories and insights from interviews, serving as a tool for education and conversation suitable for readers of all ages. It delves into the nuances of stuttering, offering guidance on social etiquette and shedding light on the diversity within the stuttering community. 

Chupkov, who has stuttered all her life and once took therapy classes in Pasadena, is working to shift societal norms around stuttering and the disability community overall. She believes that stuttering, a disability hardly represented positively in popular culture and the media, deserves accurate and respectful portrayal.

Chupkov’s roots in the Los Angeles area fuel her passion for community building and advocacy. She believes the visibility of prominent figures who stutter, such as President Joe Biden, has significantly contributed to changing perceptions of stuttering. Her efforts, combined with the comic book launch, aim to continue this momentum, fostering a more inclusive and understanding community in Los Angeles and beyond.

The event, which also features stand-up comedian and podcast host Katie Hettenbach, is intended to underscore the message that people who stutter are not alone. 

It is planned to encourage attendees to embrace their stutter, step out of their comfort zones, and recognize the thriving stuttering community in Los Angeles. 

Chupkov said she hopes that the event will help the public learn more about stuttering and why verbal diversity matters, inspiring people to try new things instead of avoiding certain situations. 

Looking ahead, Chupkov envisions a cultural landscape where stuttering is represented authentically and without stereotypes. She advocates for more nuanced portrayals of stuttering in media and popular culture, emphasizing that stuttering should not be the focal point but rather one aspect of a character’s life. Chupkov is a leader in a movement towards a more inclusive and understanding society where every voice is heard and valued.

Tickets are available through RSVP at designmatters@artcenter.edu or at the door.

Octavia’s Bookshelf is located at 1365 N. Hill Ave. in Pasadena. For more call (626) 421-6222.

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