SHOWING AND TELLING
Last night I took the subway uptown with a grocery bag full of mini comics to show and discuss with a monthly Graphic Medicine Workshop that I attend regularly.
The Workshop is facilitated by Pat Stanely and Marsha Hurst, both of the Columbia University Narrative Medicine program. Typically we read a graphic novel or memoir in the realm of graphic medicine, and when we meet, have a conversation somewhere between a close reading, an analysis of writing and/or drawing, and a discussion of anything else that might catch someone's eye.
The group varies, but attendees are often faculty teaching narrative medicine; students and graduates of the program; writers; people with social work or other healthcare backgrounds; and/or cartoonists. The groups is as interesting as the books we discuss. I learn at least 3 new things every time I go.
This month, as a change of pace, I brought my medical/bio/health- themed mini comic collection for the group to look over. Graphic novels are a rich resource, but minis offer an incredible range of topics and insights, too!
The authors of the minis included Emi Gennis, David Lasky, Whit Taylor, Box Brown, Mindy Indy, Georgia Webber, Kate Lacour, Anuj Shrestha, Liesl and John G. Swogger, Shing Yin Khor, Joyana Mc Diarmid, Andy Warner, Sarah Mink and Corinne Mucha, Claire Sanders, Cathy Leamy, and many more...!
I think minis can be underrated as dynamic teaching tools. My collection ranges in topics from mental health to cancer diagnosis to genital mutilation to science fiction. They are memoir, instructional, fiction, and journalism or manifesto. Most of them are not for children.
Many minis in my collection weren't drawn with education or bio/health/medicine readers as a target market. They just happen to fall into that category. ANY topic you can imagine is likely addressed in a mini comic. They're (usually) cheaper than comic books or graphic novels, the art and writing are comparable, and are an excellent way to target an individual short story rather than wading through an anthology for the work of one particular cartoonist.
Minis often are self-published and don't go through an editorial process. If you are interested in public perceptions of science, health, and the body, minis will give you a more diverse sample than graphic novels. Some of them are very opinionated (to put it mildly!)