Where to buy: https://bookshop.org/lists/recently-reviewed-on-graphicmedicine-org
Medical Mentions is a group of graphic works. The graphic works reviewed here are books whose primary topics are not medical, and yet they cover a medical topic with some depth at some point in the work. The rest of the work might be fictional or nonfictional, while the medical portion is often technical and five pages or more. The reviewer will usually neither recommend nor discourage reading the work, except when the rest of the work is deemed outstanding or terrible, respectively. Typically, six graphic works will be part of the review with one paragraph for each. Prior Medical Mentions can be found at I, II, III. With that in mind here’s Medical Mentions IV:
Nat Enough & Forget Me Nat by Maria Scriven; ISBNs: 978-1338538199 & 978-1338538243; graphix/Scholastic (www.scholastic.com); April & September 2020; paperback; 236 pages; author’s website: https://www.mariascrivan.com/
Nat Enough and Forget Me Nat, along with the third book (so far) Absolutely Nat, in this middle school series, Maria Scriven has shown the protagonist, Natalie (“Nat”), trying to fit in. Nat’s torn between her prior BFF, Lily, who’s abandoned Natalie to join the cool clique vs. who will have Nat now? The book titles are play on Not with a whole list of where Nat feels she falls short with “Not enough:” athleticism, coolness, talent, friends, success, style, …, but is nerdy, clumsy, and awkward (page 4). Medical issues that arise include low self-esteem from bullying (many occasions throughout all three books by a boy who likes to call everyone a dog and bark at them, losing her BFF, her own dog wearing a vet collar, a dance instructor who deliberately—almost abusively—pairs up kids with their seeming nemesis are all covered in Nat Enough. While Forget Me Nat continues some of the bullying and adds Nat’s trip to the orthodontist for braces. We watch first crushes, broken hearts, and a collision injury during a kickball game. There’s an inadvertent medical reference when Florence runs for class president with the slogan “Go With the Flo[i];” though “Go With Flo” makes more sense. There are many lessons learned over the course of these three books with the biggest one is to find your own talent and mutually supportive friends.
James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner by Alfonso Zapico (Translated from Spanish by David Pendergast); ISBN: 978-1628726558; Arcade Publishing (www.arcadepub.com); May 2016; hardcover; 240 pages.
According to Kevin Birmingham’s The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Penguin Books, 2014) in the United States the federal Comstock Act of 1873 with state counterparts penalized mailing “… obscene, lewd, or lascivious book, pamphlet, picture, paper, print or other publication of an indecent character … “ with $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison (5). Birmingham’s book details the creation, U.S. banning and book-burning of Joyce’s Ulysses. While the graphic novel James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner by Alfonso Zapico provides a rich, colorful (in black, white and gray tones) biography of the man behind that “Most Dangerous Book.” Ulysses was officially banned in England 1929-1947, and in the U.S. 1922-1933 until a 1933 Southern District Court of New York decision (United States v One Book Called Ulysses). Medical issues surround Joyce’s untreated alcoholism, his deteriorating eyesight and his daughter Lucia’s schizophrenia. The reader can see—once Joyce reaches adulthood—he’s often shown drinking heavily, perhaps partly learned from his father, throughout Portrait of a Dubliner (e.g., 41, 54, 74-78, 82, 88-91, 94-96, 99, 101, 133-134, 160-161, 166, 184, 189). Joyce’s drunken image often appears as a wobbly Joyce surrounded by greyish puffballs. Joyce had bouts of iritis (eye inflammation, light sensitivity, among other symptoms; 87, 130, 135) leading to tinted glasses and glaucoma (optic nerve damage; 128-9, 170, ) to the point of an irisectomy, near blindness, periodic hospitalization with three operations on his eyes (130, 174), or wearing an eye patch over his right eye (175). Related to his eyesight problems, Joyce stages a humorous event at a French Opera Company performance (187) declaring to the audience “I’m no longer blind” because he hears John Sullivan’s Irish operatic voice. Lucia, ballerina and his daughter, had mental health problems (183, 194-9, 202-5, 217), including attempted treatment by Doctor Carl Jung. Joyce died from a perforated duodenal ulcer (223) a few weeks before age 59. I have one quibble with Portrait of a Dubliner when the word ironic instead of sardonic is used to explain one of Joyce’s letters (155). This wording might be more an issue connected with its translation; and I only mention it because Joyce cared so much about words—admittedly often hard-to-understand words, but words nonetheless.
Look Back and Laugh: Journal Comics by Liz Prince; medical mentions on various days in 2016; ISBN: 978-1603094344; top shelf productions (www.topshelfcomix.com); 2018; paperback; 400+ pages; author’s website: http://www.lizprincecomics.com/
Liz Prince likes writing about herself, and she does it so well. For 2016 she gave herself an assignment to write an autobiographical comic strip daily. The result is Look Back and Laugh and over the course of that year there were many occasions when medical issues arose, usually lasting no more than a day or two, but sometimes revisited as with her grandmother’s dementia and subsequent very reluctant move to an assisted living facility with the longest tale April 17-22. Other issues include Wolfman, one of Liz’s cats (her other cat is Dracula), refusal to take pills prescribed by their vet; an ongoing battle with the cat’s preventing all attempts, and there were many. She even finds an Alien Autopsy game similar to the more commonly known Operation with screams occurring if touching the sides when trying to remove alien organs. And Liz is prone to stress-related insomnia. Lots of Liz’s daily escapades are mundane, but often very funny. The book was funded by Patreon contributors which were sent monthly booklets of her doings soon after the month ended … often yielding a strip of her publishing tribulations. Over the year, Liz has work (comicons), family and vacation travels. She gets married to Kyle, buys a house, and moves. There are some poignant moments, as on the fifth anniversary of Liz’s dad’s death, December 24. Other of her works include the award-winning Tomboy (Zest Books, 2014), be your own backing band (Silver Sprocket), and her first published comic: Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? (top shelf productions) and winner of the Ignatz Award for outstanding debut.
What’s Michael? Fatcat Collection Voumes 1 & 2 by Makoto Kobayashi (translations by Dana Lewis, Lea Seidman, Toren Smith, Alan Gleason, Hisashi Kotobuki, Jeanne Sather, Elin Winkler; pp Vol 1: 101-106, 173-178, 327-332, 511-516; Vol 2: 57-62, 297-308; ISBN: Vol 1 978-1506714141; Vol 1 978-1506714158; Dark Horse Manga; Publication Vol 1: Feb 2020, Vol 2: Aug 2021; paperback; Vol 1: 528, Vol 2: 464 pages
What’s Michael?, a delightful and hilarious manga series, by Makoto Kabayashi is back in print! Dark Horse Comics has rereleased the English-translated eleven volume series into two Fatcat Volumes. What’s Michael? is one of my favorite manga’s; and its title is a question to emphasize that Michael, the cat, has a strong personality with his human companions—using the word owners hardly seems appropriate—always trying to figure him out. Many cats appear in this series (feral and domesticated friends and foes, and Michael’s family). The cats almost never speak, nor even have thought balloons; except on occasion when they’re among themselves and no humans are present, they might exclaim at each other. There’re inside jokes, like Michael’s male human mentions an employee with the name Mr. Fred Rikschodt … (Frederik Schodt is a famed manga historian and translator). Michael-related medical events typically involve trips to the veterinarian by his anxious humans; while there are also a few human mental health medical events. For example, Michael has a runny nose in the chapter called Sick! Hang in There, Michael! His human is so anxiety-ridden that she frenetically tries to herd Michael into his cat carrier then motor scooters him to the vet … it’s all terrifying to watch. No wonder Michael, like all cats I know, wants to be anywhere but the vet’s office. Michael at the vet climbs into his owner’s sweater, so only his leg extends beyond her sleeve to receive a shot. In another story (Michael’s Disease), embarrassingly, he has most of his fur shaved off because of a “mild skin disease.” A satirical repeat character, The Fugitive with occupation veterinarian, appears in several stories … and, while on the lam, helps those he encounters with cat behavioral problems. I highly recommend What’s Michael? … for the fun of these tails (sic).
[i] Go with the Flow by Lilly Williams & Karen Schneemann about first periods, menstruation, bullying, activism, and, mutual support, among others.
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