Thursday, October 30, 2014


It's the incredible day that can't be contained in one blog post! So here we are for Part 2! (Yes, it took awhile, but waiting builds discipline.)

For the rest of my Vesalius 500 day I attended some excellent panels, and took my sketchbook. Good luck reading my writing! Good luck reading my drawing! If you are looking for some form of linear narrative, you are screwed. I usually start drawing in the upper left corner, work my way in pseudo left-to-right rows down the page, and then start cramming additional comments and illustrations up the right side. Eventually I just put anything extra wherever it will fit and create relationships that may not have been discussed in the presentation. Despite all that, I find other people's sketchbooks interesting. Here are my pages...

MK Czerwiec and Ian Williams gave a presentation about Graphic Medicine (comics with medical/patient/caregiver themes) and its evolution as a website, a transformative and creative practice, a teaching tool, and their personal relationships to comics and medicine.

Lisa Rosner, author of The Anatomy Murders, spoke about her discoveries in researching the lives of the notorious Burke and Hare and their victims. She described the culture of 1830's medical education, the premium on bodies for dissection, and the method by which B and H killed their victims. Then she went on to describe the ways in which the press misdirected the general public in their understanding of who their victims were, as in Mary Patterson was NOT a prostitute. For some reason I've been interested in the circumstances leading up to the Anatomy Act of 1832 so this was a "treat" (if such things are treats!)

Alice Dreger spoke about Fascinomas, pathologies or conditions that evoke fascination in the medical community. She also talked about the evolution of medical representation, the myriad messages behind anonymizing patient photographs, and towards the end rocked my world with a dismissal of the feminist dismissal of Vesalius' illustration of a vagina. Kudos, Alice! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014



The New York Academy of Medicine Center for History is an institution that everyone should get to know. One way to do that is to go to their annual open house events. This year's event was on October 18. Guest curated by artist Riva Lehrer, this day of history, medicine, pathology, anatomy, and loads of fun (yes, fun!) was entitled Vesalius 500. 2015 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius who rocked the world in 1543 with the publication of his seminal book on human anatomy. In 449 more years I want a birthday party like NYAM's celebration of Vesalius!

Tyner and I demonstrate the position and action of sternocleidomastoid.
(Photos by R. Sikoryak. A little blurry but he was videotaping at the same time.)

With the help of my model Tyner Dumortier, I talked about and drew muscles of the body that rotate the torso and/or move the arms in diagonal pattern. The "route" that we took around Tyner's torso was inspired by one of the plates from Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.
Here's a close up of Vesalius' inspirational plate.
I'm particularly attracted to the relationships of splenius capitis and the rhomboids.

I used bony attachments to create a "chain" of muscles that wrapped around the body, forming a spiral pattern. I did this because it's pretty! If you're going to attend an anatomy lecture on a Saturday morning, it ought to be entertaining at least.

Demonstrating trunk rotation and the function of the
serratus anterior and abdominal obliques.

Pectoralis major, serratus anterior, and the abdominal musculature,
get a work out in this burlesque-like image.

Vesalius and the anatomists he influenced over centuries, like Casseri (illo of one of his books above), show us anatomy in bodies situated in environments and often in lifelike poses. One of the reasons I draw on live models is to reinforce the understanding that anatomy is living in us! Not on a page.

NYAM displayed my needlework of body imagery that include colon- and end- oscopies, ultrasounds, and MRIs in their cabinets.

Last but not least, this is an image drawn by the fabulous MK Czerwiec, in some circles known as Comic Nurse. I love this! Notice that she even includes my reference to the muscles of the trunk as a "meat balloon." (But that's another story!)

Monday, October 13, 2014


Who was Vesalius? One of the (many) greatest anatomists who ever lived. Even if you "don't know anything" about the history of medicine or anatomical study, you've either seen reproductions of his anatomical illustrations or you've seen the illustrations of others who were heavily influenced by him or directly ripping him off (like me!)

This year celebrates his 500th birthday. Come celebrate with a day of art-academic-nerd flavored discovery.

New York Academy of Medicine Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health
2nd Annual Festival of Medical History and the Arts

Art, Anatomy, and the Body: VESALIUS 500
Celebrate the 500th birthday of anatomist and humanist Andreas Vesalius with a day-long event. Presenters include Daniel Garrison, Heidi Latsky's GIMP Dance Project, Graphic Medicine, Sander Gilman, Hill Hayes, Steven Assael, Chase Joynt, Brandy Schillace, Ann Fox, Lisa Rosner, Michael Sappol, ProofX, and me! Artist Riva Lehrer is the guest curator.

Saturday, October 18
11:00 AM- 6:30 PM
The new York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY
General Admission - $35
NYAM Fellows, Members, and Friends of the Rare Book Room - $20
Students and Hospital House Staff (ID required) - FREE
Wheelchair Seating and Companion Seat - $35
To register -

My presentation, Visualizing Anatomy on a Live Model, is at 11 AM (on the third floor). I'll use the anatomical illustrations of Vesalius and other early anatomists and draw on a live model (dancer Tyner Dumortier), as we look at the body with the double vision of the anatomist. Part live-drawing performance, part slide show/lecture, part conversation, we will explore the (kin)esthetic relationships of our anatomy.

My anatomical needlework will be on display as well! Here are some preview images photographed by Tom Henning...

Catherine's Knee is a sampler of a friend's knee MRI.
Different stitches represent different tissues or structures.
Surrounded by a border of fibroblasts.

Here's a cross stitch of a past endoscopy. 
Rumors that I am "gutless" are obviously unfounded.

You can use this link for the fascinating NYAM blog:  (I was a guest blogger on August 14


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SPX 2014!


I can't think of a thing. But I'll have the whole weekend of September 13-14 to think about it, because I will be there tabling with R. Sikoryak at the Small Press Expo.

In my opinion it's one of the best fests on the east coast. I will be selling my injury prevention manual (NO) PAIN!, minis from the Pathology Laffs series, and premiering my latest titled "Zoonosis and Tipsy Nephrologists." It's got a series of cat/human diseases, a zoonosis activity page, gags about drunken medical professionals... and more!

Zoonosis cover. Minutes of fun!

My work will also appear in the new Ninth Art Press anthology, "Subcultures" ...

Here's the cover of Subcultures. You can buy it here.

...AND I've got a new horse poster that I'm not yet revealing online. Come by and check it out!

Our table number is C12A (listed in program under R. Sikoryak).

Saturday, August 30, 2014


R. Sikoryak's Carousel is Dixon Place's longest continually running performance series featuring cartoonists, visual artists, and theater and music artists presenting their work live. Now their work will be shown on the Dixon Place Gallery Walls. Featuring Emily Flake, Brian Dewan, Danny Hellman, Miriam Katin, Jason Little, Dyna Moe, Doug Skinner, Jim Torok, R. Sikoryak, and me - Kriota Willberg. 
My hanging... on the wall of Dixon Place.

I have three pieces in the exhibit: "New Linea Alba," a self-portrait commenting on last year's abdominal surgery, done as an homage to the 17th century anatomist Guilio Cesare Casseri; "Eggscuse Me!" is a color print from my minicomic "Pictorial Anatomy of the Cute"; my latest, "Temperaments of Popular Breeds" is a poster comparing the physiognomy of popular teenage heartthrobs and favorite breeds of horses, and is premiering in this exhibit. Sorry, I don't yet have the poster image, so go see it!

Wednesday, September 3
Opening at 6 pm
Performance of select participating artists at 7:30 pm
161A Chrystie St (btw Rivington and Delancy), NYC 
Exhibit runs through October 3

(I won't be at the Theater until 9 pm. You can show up earlier!)

Thursday, July 10, 2014



I tend to collect a lot of minicomics with medical, health, and/or anatomical themes when I go to comics events, bookstores, or even just open the mail. Many of them are remarkable for better or worse. So I thought perhaps I would start sharing some from my bookshelves with you. My comments aren't so much review as description.

Brescia Birdthroat Bloodbeard
This is not a rhetorical question. It's the title of a charming mini I picked up at Blue Stockings bookstore. This mini is a semi memoir visionary dream romance between the narrator and her lost placenta. A recipe for a placenta smoothie is included as well as speculation about the commercial uses of placenta.

Box Brown

Beautifully illustrated in trendy risograph technology, a young man engages in medically induced memory recall for therapy he's not willing to complete. Highly recommended.

Sophia Wiedeman
A data entry tech grows claws where her hands once were. The claws have willful personalities and are not always cooperative. She comes to live at the Deformatory, a haven for people with deformities which include physical characteristics of non-humans. We follow other people and their stories. I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just say that our protagonist takes things a little too far with her claw hands. Great line illustration.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I just got back from this year's Graphic Medicine conference in Baltimore. Yes, you read me: Graphic Medicine - comics about health, medicine, and body sciences. There's actually a thriving community of cartoonists, healthcare professionals, academics, and people acting in combinations of those professional roles. 

The days were filled with panels and talks. Here are some excerpts from my note/sketchbook.
Megan Kirkland gave a fascinating "Lightning Talk" about
using comics for educating youth with spina bifida about
sex and sexuality. Simple idea and an elegant solution to a real problem.
(The Z's are my notes from another (boring!) talk.)

Leah Eisenberg is looking for graphic methods of explaining
the rights of children to them when they are involvedi in medical studies.
My representation of Bio Banking has nothing to do with reality.

Just when you think you've heard it all about Fredric Wertham,
Carol Tilley comes along and he gets interesting once again.

Cathy Leamy fights the good fight: Make educational
comics INTERESTING and ENTERTAINING --- please!
I got so excited that I wrote "create" instead of "creative."

Booster Shot Comics is Alex Thomas and Gary Ashwal.
They gave a presentation  describing how they anthropomorphized asthma
medications to educate children about dosage and asthma self care.
Do not confuse my notes with their graphic skills. The pill with the smiley face is my own pathetic design.
These guys are medical comics geniuses.
There was oh-so-much more than just my visual list, here. James Sturm, ET Russian, Ellen Forney, and many, many, many other people gave excellent presentations. (Okay... some presentations were boring or not quite hitting the mark for solid comics making, but I don't want to talk about them and harsh my post-conference buzz. But I will say that the rumors about Nancy Silberkleit are true!)

Words fail to describe how exhilarating it is to be in a crowd that doesn't require explanations of the humor I use in Pathology Laffs. I sold a copy of Pictorial Anatomy of the Cute to Shelley Wall who got the title reference (Pictorial Anatomy of the Cat) at first glance! (She studied with the author, Stephen G. Gilbert.) My world is complete!