guest review and response illustration by Northwestern medical student Melanie Zhang As a student who is interested in the field of psychiatry as a career, Psychiatric Tales was an invaluable read that furthers solidifies my decision. By telling extremely real stories of people with these diseases, Daryl Cunningham was able to accomplish several tasks through this graphic novel. First, by describing his personal experiences as a mental health nurse and very briefly explaining the causes of disease, Cunningham uses this graphic novel as an educational tool to distinguish the types of psychiatric illnesses and what it may look like to… Read More
A Powerful Portrait of Psychosis guest review by Eric J. Keller, MD/MA candidate, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Viewotron offers a powerful image of not only a devastating mental illness but the toll that such an illness can have on those who care for them. Sam Sharpie’s graphic novel would be a valuable asset to any family member seeking to better understand his/her relationship with a loved one struggling with a psychotic disorder. Whether as an educational experience or safe place to commiserate though a shared experience, I think this short piece is well worth the read. I would… Read More
From last year’s Comics & Medicine conference in Brighton comes a presentation by Andrew Godfrey and Emma Jeremie. They presented on Panel 3C: Moral Risks. The presentation is titled, “But Who Is This Story For? : Representation and Responsibility in Autobiographical Comics.” Use the Quicktime player below to view images along with the audio of this presentation. If you don’t have Quicktime, you can listen to an audio-only version of the keynote presentation below.
Guest review by Leandri Hattingh, Grey House Cartoons I have always been empathetic with sufferers of ill mental health, more so than many of my medical colleagues. Diagnostic and treatment limitations aside (for the moment), I believe these conditions remain stigmatised in modern medicine and, sadly, often by practitioners of such medicine. Since my exit from clinical practice in mental health care however, I’ve become less sensitive to these matters over the years. Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir, “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me” has sparked in me a renewed insight, understanding, and empathy for those suffering from mental health disorders. In this… Read More
Russell Leander is an art therapist, a psychotherapist, an educator, and artist in Chicago. He has spent ten years working on locked psychiatric wards. He says of this project: The illustrations came into being while I was painting in open art groups with the patients. Frequently, during those groups, someone would say something that would strike me as something to remember,so I would write it down on a scrap of paper and stick it in my pocket. Every now and then, I’d spread the paintings and scraps of paper on my office floor and see which might belong together. That’s really it. Many times, I found,… Read More
This work in progress is being serialized online. Chapters 1-3 were published as a zine in Summer 2013. Chapters up to four available as of this posting here.
Geographer and cartoonist Simon Moreton (Smoo Comics) created Better, Drawn. Moreton says of his site, “Better, drawn is a place for people to share stories about long-term mental and physical illnesses, told in the form of short comics. The site is a way for people to write and draw about their experiences that might otherwise be difficult to talk about openly. In fact, we think that sometimes things can be said better when they’re drawn. Submissions are open to anyone with a story to tell about coping with illness.” You can also listen to Simon discuss community and comics in this podcast.
Psychiatric Tales is an autobiographic work that happens to explain mental illness in a succinct and novel way. It is already proving to be of use to both health professionals and mental health service clients. The book also relates the trauma and personal cost of working in the caring profession, a subject rarely discussed. What makes this work so valuable is that Darryl Cunningham has viewed mental illness from both perspectives: as carer and as a client. This graphic enquiry into mental illness formed part of his recovery yet the work is without a hint of melodrama or self pity,… Read More
To include this great little book in a list of “medically themed” graphic novels may be stretching the point somewhat, or tending towards the medicalisation of normal life (doctors are good at that, but maybe not as good as Big Pharma). I include it because of the thread narrative that concerns Chester Brown’s relationship with his mentally ill mother. The main theme of this memoir is Brown’s somewhat troubled adolescence, growing up in the 1970’s in a Montreal suburb. Chester is the slightly geeky teenager whose quiet, thoughtful manner and skinny, longhaired good looks get him plenty of (seemingly unwanted)… Read More