Graphic Medicine M1/M2 Seminar
MK Czerwiec, RN, MA, Northwestern Feinberg Medical School
Class 1: Introduction to Graphic Medicine
- Watch this short video, come to class prepared to share at least two key takeaways:
2. Gather art supplies: pencils, eraser, paper, a ruler, black markers (fine, medium, and large), coloring tools (crayons, pencils, paint, whatever you want to use.)
3. Poke around on GraphicMedicine.org
For session 1: Introduction to Graphic Medicine
- Hour 1: Personal introductions via a drawing exercise, short video, drawing exercise and discussion about the value of stories and their attendant images in medicine.
- Hour 2: Short drawing exercise focused on the clinical medical encounter, followed by sharing and discussion of student drawings and insights into the role of the physician and a brief introduction to the field of Graphic Medicine.
Ask students to draw a self portrait in 3 minutes. Go around the room:
- share self portrait, tell us about it
- introduce yourself
- why you took this seminar?
- ideas about specialty?
- what do you read for fun?
Introduction to Graphic Medicine lecture recording:
Class 2: COVID-19 Comics
- review the COVID Comics on the Graphic Medicine website here. Choose one category of comics or one specific comic to discuss and consider these questions:
- What work is this comic intending to do for the reader?
- Is the comic effective in doing that work?
- What elements of the comic – choices the creator made – contribute to its success or failure?
- What work do you think making the comic might have done for the creator(s)?
- Are there any missed opportunities in this comic? That is, Is there work it could do that it doesn’t?
2. Read this short article: COVID-19, Comics, and the visual culture of contagion. Lancet, October 10, 2020
3. And this one: JAMA article
For session 2: COVID Comics
- Hour 1: Discussion of COVID Comics provided
- Hour 2: Creation of original comics in response to readings and personal experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID Comics Lecture
Class 3: Educational Comics
- Look at these two sites for example of health education comics: Cathy Leamy’s medical comics here, and Alex Thomas’s medical comics here.
- Considering also the educational COVID comics from last week, begin to brainstorm qualities that you think make comics work and not work in healthcare.
For session 3: Comics as educational intervention in healthcare
- Hour 1: Research-based presentation on the use and value of comics as an educational intervention in healthcare
- Hour 2: Creation of original example comics as an educational tool, keeping best practices in mind.
In class today we will perform an inquiry into what makes an effective and an ineffective educational comic.
To start, look at three sites for examples, the COVID comics on the graphic medicine site, Cathy Leamy’s medical comics here, and Alex Thomas’s medical comics here. Generate a list of elements that contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a health-related educational comic. For example:
- Evokes emotion
- Bold color scheme or text that stands out, visual appealing
- Engaging reader
- Not too busy
- Didactic content clear
- Easy to digest if you don’t have a background in that, esp with abst
- Simplify complex concepts
- Takes advantage of the delivery medium
- Very readable
- Too complicated
- Too much text
- What the comic is supposed to teach is not clear
- Assumes too much knowledge
- Moves to quickly
- Too didactic, tries to teach too much
- propaganda that doesn’t explain the issue
- Inaccurate information
- Too much focus on entertainment, not content
- Accomplish too much in small space
- Can’t read the text
We then break into small groups, each assigned a health topic on which to create an educational comic (how to care for your surgical wound, managing your diet with diabetes, how to tell if someone has had a stroke, etc.) Using the above lists and steps below as guides, half of the groups will create the BEST educational comic and half the groups will create the WORST. Then sharing, then reverse (those who created a bad one will make a good one, and vice versa.)
Step 1: Gather and decide on the information to included in the comic, that is, the educational content you want to convey
Step 2: Decide on the approach of the comic to be most effective or ineffective – decide on one or two specific things that you are using as your strategy to ensure effectiveness or ineffectiveness. You should be able to name these. See our lists above.
Also decide on the details of the comic:
- Page layout? Number of panels?
- Narrative or simply fact-based?
- Characters? Talking heads or action?
Step 3: Each draw the comic as you agreed on it. (So your individual comics will vary, that’s okay. They should just follow the same general principles.)
Additional resource: Are Comic Books Appropriate Health Education Formats to Offer Adult Patients? Gary Ashwal, MA and Alex Thomas, MD, AMA Journal of Ethics, February 2018.
Class 4: Graphic Pathographies
Preparation for class:
- Students will choose, read, and present to the class a graphic medicine text of their own choosing and create & share a response drawing.
- Students will also prepare an “annotation” for one or two pages of their comic that impact them most. To do this, choose the comics pages you want to focus on and either print them out to write on or, if you have the technology and ability, you can put text directly on the PDF page on your copy of the excerpt. Annotate the pages with notes in which you discuss elements of the page (form and content) and your reaction to them. In other words, share your observations and your commentary about why certain content and formal decisions seem to have been made, and what they do to your understanding of the comic and/or the content relevant to the context of this course. The emphasis here is on observation – what and how is information communicated in the comic? This assignment is designed to help you think about the construction of a comic—how is it made, why is it made in this way, and what is the effect of it being made this way? Example annotations can be found here, but please know you do not need to do this work as that level of detail. Those examples are by intense students of the comic form, not graphic medicine. Feel free to be less detailed and include focus on the content of the comic, not just the form. This exercise is adapted from work by Nick Sousanis and his book Unflattening. More on how he uses this assignment can be found here.)
Roles of Graphic Pathographies in Clinical Training AMA Journal of Ethics, February 2018
Class 5: Drawing as a Way of Knowing (and Coping)
What are you doing creatively these days? Academic Medicine, November 2012
On graphic medicine
On making comics:
- Creating a basic, wordless story with Ivan Brunetti
- Basic Diary Comic with Marek Bennett
- Faces & Body Language with Marek Bennett
- Basic drawing with Jarett Krosoczka (creator of Hey, Kiddo and others)
- The Five Choices in making a comic
- Some free comics-making workshops
- a full comic-making online course
- More comic making resources!
- from COVID times and beyond: Comics Workshops by The Believer
- Graphic Medicine’s Drawing Together
- Pure Focus Playlist (no lyrics, Apple Music)