“Something remarkable and game changing is being sparked in the alliance between comics and medicine. It’s becoming clear that these graphic narratives can deepen understanding, not only of facts but of feelings, between patients, family, and professionals. A spoonful of comics really does help the medicine go down.”
– Paul Gravett, author of Comics Art and the editor of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
Graphic Medicine is the use of comics in medical education and patient care. Graphic novels related to illness, aging, and other difficult topics are emerging as a robust and widely varied sub-genre of adult graphic novels. The open format and ability to incorporate both words and pictures allows authors to tell deeply personal stories in powerful yet relatable ways.
YDL’s Graphic Medicine Collection features over 200 titles that define the genre. This collection was recognized when YDL won the 2014 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries. We hope they will be of help to our patrons who have dealt with illness, whether as healthcare professionals, patients or as caregivers.
Comics and graphic novels are being used as resources for health professionals, playing a valuable role in:
- reflecting or changing cultural perceptions of medicine,
- relating to the subjective patient/carer/provider experience,
- enabling discussion of difficult subjects,
- and helping sufferers or caregivers.
“Of course stories, whether written or drawn are not real life; even autobiographies are carefully constructed representations. Written stories tend to have a structure, with some sort of ultimate resolution (as well as a beginning and middle). Stories of illness that are written down or drawn by skilled, articulate authors, published by a commercial company and bought by enough people to warrant reprinting, are a highly selected marginal subgroup of the total that are “out there”, passed on by word of mouth, unwritten. Many of these “other” stories will be incoherent, too painful to relate, too distressing to hear, and so utterly bleak, miserable or banal that no commercial press is ever likely to publish them. There are other arguments against taking literature or comics as representative of real experience.”
– Dr. Ian Williams, creator of the term Graphic Medicine and co-manager of the website www.graphicmedicine.org.
GRAPHIC MEDICINE EXHIBIT AT THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
NIH Recording of A Conversation about Graphic Medicine
Students explore the graphic novel format used for personal stories of illnesses, known as graphic medicine. Grades 7-10; Health Education; Three 45-minute class periods
College and health professional students examine the field of Graphic Medicine, focusing on the use of comics as a medium for communicating stories about medicine and the experience of illness. Author: Michael Green is a physician, bioethicist, and one of the founders of the Graphic Medicine field. He has pioneered the teaching of Graphic Medicine for medical students, and has been using comics in medical education for many years.