Available Now: Graphic Medicine

We are pleased to announce the release of Graphic Medicine as both a special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly on Project Muse and as a book available through the University of Hawai‘i Press

Edited by Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, Graphic Medicine brings together scholars and comics artists to consider how life narratives in the medium of comics open up new channels of communication between medical staff, patients, their loved ones, and the community. These include creating alternative sites for community building among patients and their loved ones with regard to specific conditions and their related treatments, and educating medical practitioners about patient experiences within healthcare systems. By treating illness and disability as experiences of fundamentally changed living, rather than as separate narrative episodes organized by treatment, recovery, and a return to “normal life,” Graphic Medicine asks what it means to give and receive care.

Through autobiographical comics and illustrated essays, Safdar Ahmed, John Miers, Suzy Becker, Nancy K. Miller, and Jared Gardner offer alternative modes of understanding illness and disability, caring relationships, and temporality. Crystal Yin Lie and Julia Watson demonstrate how use of the page through panels, collages, and borderless images can draw the reader, as a “mute witness,” into contact with the body as a site where intergenerational trauma is registered and expressed. Kiene Brillenburg Wurth examines how microscripts productively extend graphic medicine beyond comics to “outsider art.” JoAnn Purcell and Susan M. Squier display how comics artists respond to and reflect upon their caring relationships with those diagnosed with an intellectual disability. And Erin La Cour interrogates especially difficult representations of relationality and care. 

During the past decade, graphic medicine comics have proliferated—an outpouring accelerated recently by the greatest health crisis in a century. Graphic Medicine helps us recognize that however unpleasant or complicated it may be, interacting with such stories offers fresh insights, suggests new forms of acceptance, and enhances our abilities to speak to others about the experience of illness and disability.

Table of Contents

Erin La Cour and Anna Poletti, “Graphic Medicine’s Possible Futures: Reconsidering Poetics and Reading”

John Miers, “Conflict or Compromise?: An Imagined Conversation with John Hicklenton and Lindsay Cooper about Living with Multiple Sclerosis” 

Jared Gardner, “Out of Sync: Chronic Illness, Time, and Comics Memoir”

Nancy K. Miller, “‘Is this recovery?’: Chronicity and Closure in Graphic Illness Memoir” 

Erin La Cour, “Face as Landscape: Refiguring Illness, Disability, and Disorders in David B.’s Epileptic” 

JoAnn Purcell, with Simone Purcell Randmaa. “Disability Daily Drawn: A Comics Collaboration” 

Susan M. Squier, “Reframing ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’: Comics and Intellectual Disability” 

Safdar Ahmed, “Graphic Confessions and the Vulnerability Hangover from Hell”

Julia Watson, “Drawing Is the Best Medicine: Somatic Dis-ease and Graphic Revenge in Miriam Katin’s Letting It Go” 

Suzy Becker, “If That’s What You Want to Call It: An Illustrated Rx-Ray for Graphic Medicine”

Crystal Yin Lie, “Drawn to History: Healing, Dementia, and the Armenian Genocide in the Intertextual Collage of Aliceheimer’s” 

Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, “Outsider Writing: The Healing Art of Robert Walser”