Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Graphic Medicine - conferences and more

Once you start mooching around in the world of graphic novels and comics it is amazing what you find. I had no idea that many medics are using comics and graphic novels in their research, their academic papers and to explore their clinical practice. So much so that it has become a genre in itself.

At last Monday's meeting of Laydeez do Comics Dr Muna Al-Jawad gave a presentation about her PhD thesis. This quote is from a blog post about her on the Graphic Medicine website: "She sees comics as a qualitative research method, a way to explore difficult areas of practice". Muna gave a great talk, she is a natural presenter and what she had to say was fascinating. She has a comic alter ego that she uses to explore her clinical practice and how this impacts on her feelings. It was a rare insight into a world that is closed to most of us – unless we work in this environment ourselves of course.

From what I understand there is a lot of interest amongst medics and others in what they call "graphic medicine" – a wide ranging genre that encompasses the experiences, thoughts and emotions of patients and medical practitioners. They have a conference each year and in 2013 it will be in Brighton UK: Ethics Under Cover: Comics, Medicine and Society. Muna mentioned that there is a call for scholarly papers at the moment (deadline 22nd February 2013) visit their website to find out more.

I don't want to talk about my own work on this blog, I will be starting up a companion blog for that, but I feel that I should mention a graphic medicine project I had some involvement with. A few years ago the Royal College of Anaesthetists produced a series of booklets to explain anaesthesia to children. I illustrated and helped to edit the picture book style booklet for young children Rees Bear and scripted the comic for the booklet for school age children Davy the Detective. The doctors I worked with did a great deal of research as to the best way to communicate with children on this subject. It was interesting to find out that other medics have found comics to be an effective means of imparting information.

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