Graphic Medicine Manifesto

Paper or softback
MK Czerwiec, Ian Williams, Susan Merrill Squier, Michael J. Green, Kimberly R. Myers, Scott T. Smith
Published 22 Apr 2015
List Price £21.95

Only available to back order


“Absorbing and accessible. . . . The authors explain themselves in both words and pictures (five sketch themselves as standard-issue professionals, and one as a small, cheerful chicken). They outline what drew them to graphic medicine and append excerpts from favorite works.”

—Abigail Zuger, M.D., New York Times

Graphic Medicine Manifesto draws its strength from the way the individual voices coalesce to confirm not only the ability of comics to unravel medical culture and the pedagogical possibilities of graphic medicine but the transformative and community-building competence of graphic pathographies. In short, Graphic Medicine Manifesto is an essential read for scholars in comics studies, cultural studies, medical humanities, bicultural studies and visual studies, and to any reader who values the intersection of literature and medicine.”

—Sathyaraj Venkatesan, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

“Something remarkable and game changing is being sparked by the alliance between comics and medicine. It’s becoming clear that these graphic narratives can deepen understanding, not only of facts but of feelings, between patients, families, and professionals. A spoonful of comics really does help the medicine go down.”

—Paul Gravett, author of Comics Art and editor of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die

This inaugural volume in the Graphic Medicine series establishes the principles of graphic medicine and begins to map the field. The volume combines scholarly essays by members of the editorial team with previously unpublished visual narratives by Ian Williams and MK Czerwiec, and it includes arresting visual work from a wide range of graphic medicine practitioners. The book’s first section, featuring essays by Scott Smith and Susan Squier, argues that as a new area of scholarship, research on graphic medicine has the potential to challenge the conventional boundaries of academic disciplines, raise questions about their foundations, and reinvigorate literary scholarship—and the notion of the literary text—for a broader audience. The second section, incorporating essays by Michael Green and Kimberly Myers, demonstrates that graphic medicine narratives can engage members of the health professions with literary and visual representations and symbolic practices that offer patients, family members, physicians, and other caregivers new ways to experience and work with the complex challenges of the medical experience. The final section, by Ian Williams and MK Czerwiec, focuses on the practice of creating graphic narratives, iconography, drawing as a social practice, and the nature of comics as visual rhetoric. A conclusion (in comics form) testifies to the diverse and growing graphic medicine community. Two valuable bibliographies guide readers to comics and scholarly works relevant to the field.



MK Czerwiec and Ian Williams

1 Who Gets to Speak? The Making of Comics Scholarship

Scott T. Smith

Excerpt from Swallow Me Whole, by Nate Powell

2 The Uses of Graphic Medicine for Engaged Scholarship

Susan Merrill Squier

“Bad Blastocyst,” by Ruben Bolling

Excerpts from I Am Not These Feet, by Kaisa Leka

Excerpts from “Where Babies Come From: A Miracle Explained,” by Ann Starr

3 Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narrative: The Use of Graphic Novels in Medical Education

Michael J. Green

Excerpt from The Infinite Wait, by Julia Wertz

4 Graphic Pathography in the Classroom and the Clinic: A Case Study

Kimberly R. Myers

Vita Perseverat (Life Goes On), by Ashley L. Pistorio

5 Comics and the Iconography of Illness

Ian Williams

Excerpt from The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon

6 The Crayon Revolution

MK Czerwiec

Excerpt from Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, by Miriam Engelberg

Excerpt from Old Person Whisperer, by Muna Al-Jawad


MK Czerwiec and Ian Williams


Selected Bibliography

Comics Bibliography

Author Biographies and Acknowledgments


MK Czerwiec is a nurse and comics artist. She is the artist-in-residence at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Ian Williams is a visual artist and illustrator, a medical doctor, and an independent humanities scholar. His most recent book is The Bad Doctor: The Troubled Life and Times of Dr. Iwan James.

Susan Merrill Squier is Brill Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Penn State.

Michael J. Green is a medical doctor and Professor of Humanities and Medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Kimberly R. Myers is Associate Professor of Humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Scott T. Smith is Associate Professor of English at Penn State.

Combining scholarly essays with visual narratives and a conclusion in comics form, establishes graphic medicine as a new area of scholarship. Demonstrates that graphic medicine narratives offer patients, family members, and medical caregivers new ways to negotiate the challenges of the medical experience. Discusses comics as visual rhetoric.