Panel 14 from Toronto features two presenters, Ian Williams and Andrew Godfrey.[audio src="https://www.graphicmedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Panel-14.m4a" /]
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Ian Williams is a comics artist, physician and writer. He has studied Medicine, Medical Humanities and Fine Art and he originated the website GraphicMedicine.org, coining the term that has been applied to the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare. You can see learn more about his work here. He writes of his presentation, “Radical visions: The iconography of illness in comics and graphic novels,”
The proliferation of image based media has ensured that iconographic representations of health, illness and disease have become more important in western societies. Medical imaging and illustration, traditionally the preserve of medical professionals, could be seen as constituting the ‘official’ visual rhetoric of the discourse of healthcare, shaping the mental schemata of illness in the minds of professionals and laymen alike. The medium of comics, particularly that section which has developed from the radical underground, acts to some extent as a counterweight to this official iconographic control and it could be argued that the makers of autobiographical illness comics, by portraying their own diseased bodies, are seizing power and changing the illness experience of others, altering their expectations and perceptions.The way that illness is represented in popular media, and the way this influences patients’ conceptions of illness is not generally considered in medical education. The contemplation and discussion of graphic narratives could be a valuable edition to medical education and, indeed, medical journals and educators are beginning to use the graphic medium. This paper argues that the subjective portrayal of illness and disease by comics artists, and the area of study known as Graphic Medicine, constitute a valuable resource which can be more illuminating than ‘traditional’ medical illustration.
Andrew Godfrey is a comic artist and blogger from Bristol, UK. He was born with the chronic illness cystic fibrosis. He also collaborates with his close friend Emma Mould (under the name Sicker than thou) on her autobiographical comics chronicling her experiences with the mental health service. You can learn more about his work here. He writes of his talk, “Navigating the margins between the cartoon self and the ‘real’ self: Irony, authenticity, and disillusion inThe CF Diaries,”
In this talk I discuss how I have attempted to present a more rounded representation of illness than we see in media. I give a brief overview of my influences and how they have helped shape the way in which I tell my story, in particular my use of humour. I explain why I think comics is the perfect medium to play out the schizophrenic split between the ideal self, the real self, and the self that others see. Finally, I recall the impact your story might have on those closest to you when you are often alienated from the truth of the subject matter yourself.