WHO I AM: MK Czerwiec (that’s pronounced sir-wick)
WHAT I DO: I’m a nurse currently working in the medical humanities. My past clinical experience is in HIV/AIDS care, hospice care, and nursing administration. I make comics under the pseudonym Comic Nurse, and am currently the Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
MY CONNECTION TO GRAPHIC MEDICINE: During my MA program, I focused some of my studies on the question of whether or not comics could have a legitimate place in critical dialog about health care. In 2010, I presented at the first Comics & Medicine conference in London, and was recruited as on-the-ground organizer of the second follow-up 2011 conference in Chicago. I’ve been on the organizing committee for Toronto and also this year in Brighton.
Last year, Ian Williams and I worked with a web developer to merge the 2011 conference website and his Graphic Medicine site, and we have been sharing the work of running the Graphic Medicine site since. I host and edit the Graphic Medicine podcast, which primarily aims to bring our conference presentations to interested folks who may not be able to attend the conferences. The podcast also periodically presents interviews with people working at the intersection of comics and medicine.
HOW I USE GRAPHIC MEDICINE IN MY WORK: Graphic Medicine is the primary content of my teaching and academic writing. I give lectures and workshops on drawing in the health care context. In my artwork, I am heavily influenced by many other creators in this sub-genre.
PROJECTS I’M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW:
- A yet-to-be-named graphic memoir project I started this spring
- My chapter and some artwork for the Graphic Medicine Manifesto, which, as others have mentioned, is the first installment in the Graphic Medicine Book series from Penn State University Press. Reading chapters by my co-authors, and incorporating their feedback into my chapter has helped me to better organize my thoughts about the role drawing and reading comics can play in health care.
- My first graphic novel project, Taking Turns: A Careography. It is an illustrated oral history of caregiver response to the AIDS crisis as it happened in one Chicago hospital. Excerpts from this project will be shown in Human Beings II, an exhibit curated by Riva Lehrer at WomanMade Gallery in Chicago, part of the Bodies of Work festival (exhibiting with many awesome artists, including Andrew Godfrey!)
- Working with Michelle Hwang on an article about “Hospice Comics” that we hope to target to a population of caregivers perhaps not familiar with Graphic Medicine
- The next issue of Ivy zine with Mita Mahato, which is a great joy and keeps me inspired
- Laydeez do Comics Chicago, which is also an inspiration. I enjoy editing the audio and images from these events so they are available online.
- Planning a long trip to UK this summer – first to London for the launch of the International Network for Narrative Medicine, a conference at which Mita, Ian, Linda Raphael, and I will present on aspects of Graphic Medicine. Then on to Glasgow (via Lincolnshire) to attend the International Bande Dessinee conference, then touring around Manchester, Bristol, and Bath, then to Brighton for the Comics & Medicine conference. Along the way we will attend THREE Laydeez do Comics events – London, Glasgow, and Brighton! The trip is going to be amazing and utterly exhausting.
PROJECTS BY OTHERS I’M EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW:
- Toronto Comics & Medicine presenter Nancy Andrews is making a film inspired by her experiences with ICU psychosis. Details at her funded Kickstarter.
- The Churgeon’s apprentice’s successful Indigogo for the film, “Medicine’s Dark Secrets” telling the human stories behind some of the pathology specimens at St. Bart’s Pathology Museum in London.
- A film in production about the history and current state of newspapers and comics, Stripped. I’m quite eager to see this film.
- Ian mentioned Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow, and I share his enthusiasm for this project. It’s been inspiring visiting with, and chatting on Skype, with Katie as she finished this project.
- I’ve been following Lynda Barry’s Unthinkable Mind course at the University of Wisconsin for the past term, and I LOVE what she is doing integrating neurology, drawing, and comics.
- Quite thrilled with the work Brighton conference organizer Muna Al-Jawad is doing on her dissertation regarding the use of comics as a research methodology in medicine.
- I really, really, really want Carol Tyler to win at least one of the several Eisner Awards she is nominated for. (You can vote at that link!) Her series You’ll Never Know is absolutely amazing work of Graphic Medicine, addressing themes of PTSD and elder care. Though I am younger than she is, I was also raised by the WWII generation, and many of the issues she addresses in her book are really important in my life, and, I think, unrecognized generally.
- The work Brighton keynote Nicola Streeten and her Laydeez do Comics colleague Sarah Lightman are doing to turn comics into feminist activism. I’m thrilled and honored to have adapted their model in Chicago and hope to see other women doing the same in their home cities throughout the world.
WHAT I’LL BE PRESENTING ON IN BRIGHTON: I’ll be talking about a potentially useful visual approach to bioethical decision making utilizing maps… I’m honored to be collaborating with a pioneer of literature and bioethics, Dr. Martha Montello, on this endeavor.
A FEW THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO AT THE 2013 BRIGHTON COMICS & MEDICINE CONFERENCE: It is going to be fantastic to see presenters from prior Graphic Medicine events again, and also to meet new people working in the field. In addition, I am absolutely giddy with excitement about bringing home a new set of audio recordings for Graphic Medicine podcasts. Editing and posting the podcasts has been a fantastic opportunity for me to interact with each presenter about their ideas. I’m also really excited about the addition of a marketplace for creators to share their work in con-style fashion.