by On Brian Kelley
On December 8th, 2021 a dermatologist removed a mole from my back. Less than a week later, I learned that I have melanoma.
Confronting melanoma through comics is my first real concerted step inside of the realm of graphic medicine–not because it is self-indulgent, but because it is a channel that helps me grapple and survive what is happening alongside the support of family and friends. Drawing, quite literally, was my first friend.
There is an intimacy with drawing. It can feel like you are touching the soft edges of something or someone.
Drawing allows me to spend time laughing, hoping, learning…and sometimes grieving. I read recently that grief can be best thought of as a form of unexpressed love. Since then, I have been wondering if my serial comic, Big Chooch Memoir and Diary Comics, focusing on family and friendships from childhood, is all about unexpressed love at its core.
So today, I find myself drawing comics about my experience with melanoma. I am presently waiting to receive the pathology report from the surgery and I have my first appointment with an oncologist this Friday, January 7th, 2021. I am drawing and sharing my experience as it happens.
Because I need to.
That narrative, titled Prick: I Have Melanoma, Pt. 1, begins with 18 pages from the diagnosis through the days leading up to surgery on December 27th. The title comes from what I felt on my back, a nagging pinprick that I dismissed for months as a stubborn pimple or a cat’s scratch. That “prick” turned out to be the melanoma.
I self-published Prick: I Have Melanoma, Pt. 1 in Big Chooch Memoir and Diary Comics, No. 3 which can be read here in its entirety along with my other Big Chooch comics published quarterly: issuu.com/bjk925 The cover and first three pages are below.
You can read the full comic here.
As my melanoma experience evolves, I will continue to add a daily diary comic to my Instagram feed so people can continue to follow my story in real-time: @bjk925
You can learn more about me and have all of my links together in one place here: brianjkelley.org
Printed copies of Big Chooch are for sale in my Etsy shop: BigChooch.