Blythewood, SC (WLTX) - Have you ever wanted to create, or even be, your own cartoon character? Even in the face of tragedy, one Midlands man has made it his life's mission to get his cartoon picked up on a national network.
Before you say hello to the the man. You may just first, hear, his voice; or voices, in the case of Unique Publications owner Drew Bates.
Bates is the independent producer, and voice actor, behind his animated cartoon "Redneck Ninjas." But in 2007, as snow covered the Texas ground, his path to stardom was struck down.
"It was a nightmare, I literally experienced a nightmare," said Bates.
Driving home to Blythewood, his car his car hit a patch of black ice.
"I spun around, into the on-coming lane, and a semi hit me."
Bates crushed his C5, C6 vertebrae. Learning to live in a chair as a quadriplegic became his new life.
"It physically and literally grounded me," said Bates.
Frustrated, he turned to his work.
"After a period of time I put the nightmare into some suitcases. And put those suitcases down and stopped carrying them around."
Using only his knuckles, he began producing cartoons on his laptop. Bates says he's made more progress in the past 6 years being paralyzed than his 32 years being able-bodied.
"Just with my knuckles. With just these knuckles, if I can't make you laugh, then I have failed. But I won't. "
In addition to pitching his animations to TV networks like, MTV, Disney, MTV, The Cartoon Network, Bates speaks at schools as a motivational speaker. His message:
"Live fully. Live fully. This time is so short. Take advantage of the opportunities that come before you an don't look at failure as something that is going to stop you," said Bates.
So as we say goodbye to the man with many talents, for whatever challenges lie ahead, rest assured the voice, will be giving Drew a hand.
This fall Drew is releasing the Redneck Ninjas flash based video game. He says he hopes to re-pitch his cartoons to networks next year. If you would like to contact Drew to be a motivational speaker or learn more about his work, log on to his website at http://www.drewbates.com/redneckninjas.html