Showing posts with label graphic medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graphic medicine. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2019

Rarely-seen Richard Thompson cartoon in upcoming Billy Ireland exhibit

by Mike Rhode

A never-before-seen piece of Richard Thompson's original artwork, rarely seen even in publication, is about to go on display in Columbus, Ohio.



Upcoming exhibitions at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library &Museum
DRAWING BLOOD: COMICS AND MEDICINE
&
FRONT LINE: EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT
On display April 20, 2019 – October 20, 2019
DRAWING BLOOD: COMICS AND MEDICINE: This exhibit traces the history of comics’ obsession with medicine from the 18th century to today. The earliest cartoonists frequently satirized a medical practice dominated by bloodletting, purging, and other largely ineffective treatments. Over the next two centuries, modern medicine would go through remarkable transformations. Comics were there for the good and the bad, helping to rebrand the doctor from quack to hero, but also critiquing a medical system that often privileged profits over patients. Drawing Blood highlights the sometimes caustic eye of cartoonists as they consider doctors, patients, illness, and treatment in the rapidly changing world of medicine—one which continues to present new possibilities and new challenges. The exhibit features work by a wide array of creators, from pioneers of cartooning like James Gillray, William Hogarth, Thomas Nast, and Frederick Opper to contemporary greats like Richard Thompson, Carol Tyler, John Porcellino, Alison Bechdel, and Julia Wertz.
Curated by Professor Jared Gardner, OSU Department of English


I received the above notice the other day and have already pointed out that the second exhibit is co-curated by Ann Telnaes.  I also reached out to ask my friendly acquaintance Dr. Gardner what piece of Richard Thompson artwork he was including in the show. Curator Caitlin McGurk and the Billy Ireland did a very nice show of Richard's artwork a few years ago, and he donated material to them before he passed away, so I was curious what Jared had chosen.

The press release says you have a piece by Richard Thompson in it. Can you tell me what it is?

The piece by Richard is a loan from Kevin Wolf— it a small cartoon he did for an actuarial magazine he regularly did spot-illustration and cover work for over the years.

What spoke to you about the art? Were you previously a fan of Richard's?

I’ve long been a fan of Richard’s work, and getting to meet him briefly during his visit to the exhibition of his work at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was an incredible honor.


How did you select it for the exhibit, especially since it wasn't in the pieces he donated to the Billy Ireland?

Kevin Wolf, the owner of this particular piece, shares my interest in comics and medicine and is a regular attendee at the Graphic Medicine conference. He shared the cartoon with me, a really fun gag cartoon of a knight trying to figure out insurance policy options, and he generously offered to lend it for the show. It will be featured in a section dedicated to medicine and humor, a section that will also include an early doctor’s visit by Bill Watterson’s Calvin and an page from Mad Magazine poking fun at doctors.

I know the piece. As you note, it was done for Contingencies Magazine, art-directed by Richard's old friend Bono Mitchell. We considered it for The Art of Richard Thompson book but it didn't make the final cut. There was too much to choose from. Below is a scan we made for the book.

Anything else you'd like to add about the exhibit?

I guess the only other thing to add is that the exhibit begins in the 18th century with Hogarth and co. and ends with the modern “graphic medicine” movement that was kicked off with Justin Green’s Binky Brown and which is today a veritable flood of remarkable graphic memoirs and other comics about illness and healing.

published simultaneously on ComicsDC and Cul de Sac blogs)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book Review: Out Of The Woods: A Journey Through Depression and Anxiety

Williams' experiments with alternative medicine
reviewed by Mike Rhode

I recently got an email from a publicist noting that they had sent me a book eleven months ago and I hadn't reviewed it yet. Whoops! When you buy as many books as I do, this happens all too frequently, but in this case it was also a big mistake. Out Of The Woods: A Journey Through Depression and Anxiety by Brent Williams and illustrator Korkut Oztekin (Educational Resources, 2017; ISBN 978-0473-39006-8; $28) is an excellent book and a worthy addition to the burgeoning field of graphic medicine.

'Graphic Medicine' refers to comics about illness or medicine, and are more and more often being done by cartoonists who suffer from the illness. The three main strands of the works are cancer, mental illness, or traditional educationally works (that aren't usually done by patients). This past weekend's Small Press Expo (SPX) had a panel devoted to the topic of bipolar disorder (details below)* which also highlights another aspect of the field - the comics are usually done by a single cartoonist with some experience of the disease.

Out Of The Woods is not. New Zealand's Brent Williams is a human-rights lawyer and filmmaker, who "in his late forties he found he could no longer do this work. It was like he had hit an insurmountable wall. That wall was depression and anxiety. Denial, shame, and a misguided belief he had to fight these illnesses on his own made Brent's situation worse."  His co-author, Turkey's Korkut Öztekin "has worked as editor and chief writer for The Turkish Graphic Design Magazine and freelanced as a comic book artist, cover artist and illustrator for several literary works.Korkut is known for his work on Deli Gücük, a Turkish comic series of ghost stories from rural Ottoman Anatolia. He worked on Clive Barker's Hellraiser: The Dark Watch series as support artist to Tom Garcia, and recently was the lead artist in Frank Miller's RoboCop: Last Stand series." The two men with very different backgrounds, experiences and lives build a surprisingly strong work.
Williams is diagnoses by a family practitioner.

Collaborative works of autobiographical graphic medicine are very rare. Our Cancer Year by Brabner, Pekar and Stack is one of the few that comes to mind, perhaps because it is also successful. Öztekin and Williams work well together and Out of the Woods is a generally seamless telling of Williams leaving his family, quitting his work, and hitting bottom, suffering anxiety attacks and being unable to get out of bed, while half-heartedly trying a variety of self-help meditation and alternative medicine cures, while generally refusing antidepressants and therapy. A major part of this must be due to Öztekin's art, which is clear, understated, but also poetic at times.

The book's oddest note comes from what I can only call Williams' 'spirit guide'. A middle-aged white man appears throughout the story, in William's thoughts, and offers support and good advice to keep him on a path towards wellness and health. I'm unsure who this person represents, unless it's supposed to be his better self; however, it doesn't look like him. Notwithstanding that, the spirit guide serves as a useful foil showing the reader how Williams' self-destructive impulses can be tamed and how his physical and mental state can be improved.

Williams' 'spirit guide' explains depressions effect on brain cells.
Williams eventually meets a therapist who helps him realize that his father was a controlling, insensitive (but rich) self-made man who treated his wife and children badly, and that Williams needs to move past thinking of him as a role model and loving father to get well again. The art and writing remain extremely clear, the causes and treatment of depression are examined, the various ways it affects one are effectively shown - in short, this book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in, suffering from, or trying to understand loved ones who have depression. It's one of the best works of graphic medicine that I've read.
Physical activity is always recommended to help with depression.

*Writing About Bipolar


As mental health is becoming a subject that's more openly discussed than ever, comics narratives are emerging about personal experiences with mental illness. Moderator Rob Clough will discuss with Lawrence Lindell (Couldn't Afford Therapy, So I Made This), Ellen Forney (Rock Steady), and Keiler Roberts (Chlorine Gardens) their  struggles with Bipolar Disorder, the choices they make they make in writing about it, and how this process affects how they think about it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Kindness Works, an Archie comic on autism

by Mike Rhode

Recently I saw an article about Nancy Silberkleit, Archie Comics' co-CEO, publishing a comic about with a new autistic character. Since I've written a little about what's now being called graphic medicine, I sent her an email asking how to get a copy of the Kindness Works comic.

Much to my surprise, she called me to talk about the comic. We chatted for a few minutes, and I took some notes which are combined here with some e-mail exchanges:

The new character Scarlet in the Archie Comic family is a lovely young teen at Riverdale High skilled in building anything. She cherishes friends, but has difficulty expressing friendship or showing how she desires inclusion. She reacts differently to situations such as sounds and light.  Scarlet is neurodiverse, she is a person with autism. (The term neurodiversity is now trending for people with autism). Physically she has a little pony tail that flows to the side over her long hair and she wears glasses.


The comic shows the Li'l Archie characters interacting with Scarlet when they were young, and then re-encountering her as she transfers into the Riverdale High School. Some people such as Principal Weatherbee, Archie and Betty welcome her, while Reggie is his usual thoughtless self. The story is by Ray Felix, with pencils by Fernando Ruiz, inks by Dheeraj Jimar Mishra and letters by Andrew Thomas.

When writing this, Silberkleit wanted to "touch one's gut, one's funny bone, and one's mind. Scarlet being called 'weird' hits you in the gut; Hot Dog pulling on Reggie onto a barely-frozen pond touches your funny bone (and is based on a thought I had while walking my dog), and the whole comic touches your mind. I want people to understand our differences and value them to make the world a better place.

The comic is currently only being distributed electronically from Silberkleit via Paypal. She says she wants to make sure it gets a wide distribution via personal contacts and not be sidelined by the short shelf-life of one of the digests.

I am taking a hands-on approach to distribution. Inclusion is a global issue and when I use the word inclusion, it means there are folks in global societies that have to deal with exclusion, the act of isolation. That is the worst injustice that can happen to a person. I like to spark hope within people and see if I can get folks to be on a path to understand people's differences. Kindness Works is dealing with a population that has difficulty in expressing their desire for kindness and inclusion.

I feel emotional about this topic and want to see how I can help one get through the day, and in turn, hope I have sparked that individual to do the same, to spread inclusion and kindness . We are all on this planet for 76 years give or take - to me it's a short time. There was a little boy who said do as much as you can in the time you have; our talented team at Archie comics is doing just that with this wonderful story created for us.

This short comic also resonated with me for personal reasons. When I was in middle school in New Jersey in the 1970s, one town over from where Silberkleit was working as a teacher in Paramus, we had a class of autistic students that didn't interact with the rest of the school. I distinctly remember one time when 'normal' students were picking on one of the autistic kids who responded by yelling and chasing them down the hallway. I didn't like that treatment of him then, and I don't like to see it now. I work with people who have autistic children at home, and try to listen and be sensitive to the different issues they face. Anything, including a comic story, that reinforces the lesson of treating others as you'd like to be treated is worth supporting and especially teaching to children.

To order your copy, go to PayPal and send #1.99 to Nancy.archiecomics@gmail.com