The Doctor Will Draw You Now: Comics and Medicine

Graphic medicine has come to the Scott Library. Almost 100 graphic novels on medical themes have been donated for use of the Jefferson community. The collection is currently being processed, and the volumes will be shelved in the 1st floor reading area, with a 3-week circulation period. New titles are being added regularly, so check back often. View a complete list of the available titles.

These stories invite readers to understand and empathize with patients and their caregivers, encountering medical dilemmas with new eyes. The cartoon format with both words and pictures delivers a visceral impact as well as entertainment and information. Creators include doctors, patients, patient advocates and relatives, and others interested in depicting compelling health dramas.

Here are a few highlights, to pique interest:

The Bad Doctor, by Ian Williams (Myriad Editions, 2014) fiction
Iwan James is really quite a good doctor, but up against his own history of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) compounded by massive insecurity. Moreover, his wife doesn’t appreciate his passion for cycling, his douche-bag senior partner embraces the bottom line more than medicine, and other women he admires are not attracted to him. A serious yet puckish slice-of-life drama.

Cancer Vixen, by Marisa Acocella Marchetto.( Knopf, 2009) memoir
Living the fabulista life in New York, the 43-year-old Marchetto is about to be married for the first time when she finds a lump in her breast. “Listen, Cancer, ya sick bastard,” she exclaims, “now is not a good time!” Poignant and hilarious, Marchetto’s masterful use of graphics conveys her emotional turmoil throughout diagnosis, chemotherapy, and wedding.

I Am Not These Feet, by Kaisa Leka (Absolute Truth Press, 2008) memoir
With malformed and very painful arthritic feet, Leka elected to have them amputated at age 24. In surprisingly lighthearted drawings that show characters with ears or bird heads, she tells the story of her operation, learning to bind her stumps, and getting used to her springy new carbon fibre prosthetic feet. She has since taken long cycling trips with her husband.

The Long Road Home, by Gary Trudeau. (Andrews McMeel. 2005) fiction
B.D. started out as Michael Doonesbury’s roommate. Now a veteran re-enlisting after 9/11, he ships off to Iraq where a rocket grenade destroys his Humvee and takes off his leg. Slowly and painfully, he makes his way through triage, medical rescue, and the even slower and also painful physical and psychological rehabilitation stateside. Foreword by Senator John McCain.

Monsters, by Ken Dahl (Secret Acres, 2009) memoir
In self-flaying humor run amok, Dahl renders his genital herpes as fuzzy and gooey giant disease cells, creeping over everything and reshaping his reality into a walking disaster. As time goes on, his social life and psychological state go downhill until hitting a reality check from a more level-headed friend. Probably the most hilarious and graphic STD educational tract ever written.

My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s (Penn State University Press, 2015) memoir
Anchorage Daily News staffer Dunlap-Shohl learns that Parkinson’s disease won’t kill him, but it doles out worsening symptoms in disabling dribs and drabs. Initially contemplating “suicide by bear” in the forest, he finally decides to remake himself through exercise, deep brain stimulation, a rainbow of medications, and support from family, friends, and the medical community.

Our thanks to Martha Cornog, a former librarian who is the graphic novel reviewer for Library Journal, for donating this fascinating collection of visual stories (along with the mini-reviews above) to Scott Library. Look for announcements of programming to complement these materials in the near future.