Picturing Illness: History, Poetics, and Graphic Medicine


Abstract
Comics have often been treated as a juvenile and sub-literary art form; however, taking cues from the new-found cultural acceptance of comics, particularly with the publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragedy, there have emerged, over the past decade, a new breed of comics dealing with the patient/caregivers’ experiences, perspectives and identities. Christened as graphic medicine, these illness narratives use comics as a medium to address wide ranging disease/illness related issues. The present review examines the following issues: What is graphic medicine? Is there a tangible relationship between underground comics and graphic medicine? If so, can we regard underground comics as historical precedent to graphic medicine? What are the uses of comics in medicine? Broadly put, drawing examples from various graphic medical narratives, the paper seeks to trace the history and poetics of graphic medicine.
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