Saturday, February 6, 2021



As you probably already know, The Graphic Medicine Confab is a roundtable conversation focusing on the challenges and techniques of making graphic medicine: comics about everything and anything to do with health, medicine, illness and our bodies. Each meeting has a theme and a facilitator and there's NO CHARGE! 

Here's info about our next 'Fab. (Not just for graphic medicine makers!)


Comics are becoming popular classroom media for use by students from kindergarten to doctorate programs. 


Quince: The Definitive Bilingual Edition with a 
study guide by Theresa Rojas! 
Educational graphic medicine subjects include genetics, gender studies, race and racism, bioethics, patient experiences, epidemiology, violence, mental health, incarceration, and so much more. Comics about these topics can teach fact and theory, share lived experience, or provide thought-provoking narratives in a variety of formats. You might be making educational graphic medicine comics without realizing it!

Do you make comics that could be used in a classroom? If so, you might want some tips on ways to promote your work as (not just fantastically entertaining but also) educational. One way to inspire educators to use your comics in the classroom is to make study guides for your books. What is a study guide, you ask? Come to the GM Confab and find out.

Are you an educator interested in connecting with cartoonists and using more comics in the classroom? If so, you may want to share in the Confab conversation about study guides.


Wednesday, February 17 2021 at 5pm PT/8pm ET 


Dr. Theresa Rojas joins the Graphic Medicine Confab facilitators Georgia Webber, Joel Christian Gill, Benjamin Schwartz, Kriota Willberg, and YOU, to talk all about study guides: what they are, how they are used, where to find them, how to make them, and more!

Join us to contribute ideas, ask questions, get feedback, and share resources.

Fill out this Google Form and we will send you the Zoom invite. 

The 'Fab Dr. Theresa Rojas!

Dr. Theresa Rojas is a Professor of English and Professor of Ethnic studies at Modesto Junior College, who teaches literature, creative writing, composition, and comparative media, with a speciality in post-1945 Comics Studies and Visual Culture. She is an Academic Senator and the Founding Director of the Latinx Comic Arts Festival. LCAF is the California Central Valley's international celebration of Latinx comic arts creators and friends, highlighting Latinx cartoonists, writers, animators, artists, and comic arts educators. She serves on the Executive Board of the Graphic Medicine International Collective and is developing a number of projects focusing on the intersection of Latinxs and graphic medicine. 

See you on the 17th!

Sunday, November 29, 2020



Thanksgiving is over! Now we have entered The Holiday Shopping Zone! (Ominous music would play here if I had the tech for it.) What do you get for colleague, friend, or loved one with a charming geek/eclectic interest in graphic medicine, anatomy, pandemic compliance, crafting AND fashion -- put together?!?

Here are some possibilities, mostly UNDER $20.


Go to for anatomically whimsical Napping Cat shirts, using an illustration from the Cat Friends... mini comic listed below. Click the links on the Threadless site for many styles and colors. Prices vary with style.

"I 💜 your Lungs" face masks, modeled by Miriam Leuchter,

or Crabby, Minigolf, or blue Rose Hip face masks are also available on my Threadless shop. There are a variety of mask types to choose from. I HIGHLY recommend only double layer or thicker masks and gaiters. Prices vary with style.


DRAW STRONGER: SELF-CARE FOR CARTOONISTS AND OTHER VISUAL ARTISTS is  a comprehensive self-care guide for artists interested in preventing repetitive stress injuries and sustaining a pain free life long drawing practice. It's the perfect gift for artists, writers, and creative workers spending long hours focused on making small scale projects. I've also received a lot of praise for the book from people working at home in less creative areas during the pandemic! Let's face it - now that we're struggling with a pandemic we are all focusing on small scale projects for hours a day. Between the time we spend drawing, texting, needle working, mask sewing, painting, game playing, and laptopping, this book may be for everyone in the world. Price  $16.95


Stubb and Leski's Catsmas can't be found on my Artists Page on the Birdcage Bottom Books site (for
some wacky reason) but click on the link for a description of this adorable stocking stuffer of a mini comic! Is it really graphic medicine? Well...maybe incidentally since our adorable cat heroes are amputees. But the book is not about disability. It's about a pair of cats looking for the perfect Christmas gift for their humans. Read the comic via this link before you consider giving this book to young children. Mewy Catsmas! It's $6.00.

You can visit my Artists Page at Birdcage Bottom for the following and more!


Pair up a Napping Cat anatomical T-shirt with Cat Friends, Bird Acquaintances, and Their Human FurnitureMy cat Leski came up with the idea for this book while I was working on a project for Movement Science Made Simple. Think of this comic as as a neo-anatomist picture book! It's $6.00

Cadaver Diaries is my latest publication. Perfect for anatomy students, bioethicists, massage therapists, and people interested in human dissection, i.e. practically everybody! 😉 The illustrations are from sketches I made in cadaver labs between 2004 and 2019. $10.00 

Anatomical Triangles Of The Neck: a selection of love stories take the reader through diagrams of muscular anatomical triangles found in (my) neck, accompanied by short narratives about lovers triangles. Only $3.00


Go to my Artist Page for all my comics about gender, "women's work" like embroidery, and unethical research on enslaved women. Some books are all three topics blended together.

Embroidery Lab: The Medical History Nerd's Introduction to Medical Needlework. $4.00

Silver Wire has the honor of being listed on the BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Black Lives Matter Reading List. $10.00

The Wandering Uterus: Furor Uterinus and contemporary applications of ancient medical wisdom. The title says it all, doesn't it? This mini comic explores a diagnostic standard of women's medicine that was honored by the medical profession, across the ("known") world for millennia! Learn about the scope of diseases caused by the wandering uterus! $5.00

The perfect gifts for the graphic medicine/anatomy buff/bioethicist/needleworkers in your life!! Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 24, 2020




As you probably already know, a detailed study of human anatomy doesn't necessarily require us to partake in the dissection of cadavers. With in-depth reading materials, exceptional illustrations, incredible anatomy apps that can show you layers of anatomical structures rendered three  dimensionally, and a willing living human body at hand to practice palpation upon, you can meet educational requirements for many fitness, health science, and artistic professions.

Even so, I've had the fortune of studying anatomy in and out of cadaver labs for almost 40 years. (Wow!) My latest affiliation with an anatomy lab was last year as a co-teacher with artist Laura Ferguson in her Art And Anatomy drawing classes at NYU. She has been teaching this class for years and it is an amazing experience. For more about the class, visit the Art And Anatomy website. 

(For more about my adventures teaching graphic medicine seminars through in The Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, visit this blogpost.)


Conversations last fall with Laura and with NYU faculty about anatomic, artistic, and healthcare education gave me a lot of time to think about my relationships to bodies, anatomy, art, and death over the last 40 years. I spent very fulfilling quiet time in the lab sketching and examining bodies, watching students draw, and thinking about the professional and personal growth that repeated exposure to death and dying has provoked over the course of my lifetime. 

In January started looking at my last 16 years of figure drawings and cadaver sketches. I thought about my work as a massage therapist with seriously ill and dying patients and friends. I thought about the death of my father. I thought about my new relationship to the cadavers in the lab: I was there as an artist instead of health sciences student or teacher. Wow! What a change in perspective.

Of course the inevitable happened - I made a graphic memoir about my life with cadavers, illustrated exclusively from my sketchbooks. 


I really got into drawing faces in the lab. I started to like some of the cadavers more than others. Obviously they had no say in my perception of our relationship, but I started to think of these bodies as my friends!

Working with cadavers is a life-changing experience. My work with dead human bodies definitely influenced my massage treatments of living human bodies. It helped me process the death of my father. It changed the way I see bodies. If you're curious about any of this, then this book may be for you! If you want to know what it's like to dissect a cadaver, this book may be for you! If you are curious about different ways people emotionally cope with dissecting human bodies, this book may be for you! This book is definitely NOT for you if sketches of dissected human bodies and faces are too disturbing.


The identities of these living and dead bodies can't be determined through the sketches in the book. Tattoos and distinctive skin markings (other than my own) are not show. The facial features of live models are obscured and the faces of the dead models have been dissected. No one is identifiable.

If you'd like to order a copy of Cadaver Diaries, take this link to Birdcage Bottom Books.

Saturday, June 6, 2020



Kriota Willberg
Right now, almost every aspect of our lives has been impacted by two major cultural/medical phenomena: pandemic and violence. COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd is shaping our values, our behaviors, and our body/mind/spirits. 

This implies that practically any comics that you make these days could qualify as graphic medicine: comics about everything and anything to do with health, medicine, illness and our bodies.

Whether your interest is in protecting people from COVID-19, fighting racism, or just blowing off some tension by making gag cartoons about herpes, creating graphic medicine presents a range of challenges like - making arguments that will inspire people to make healthier choices; communicating intense subjective states like pain, grief, or fear; using humor to explore sensitive subjects; educating readers without being boring; or mastering techniques for drawing the perfect word balloon.

Are you making comics about graphic medicine? Looking for answers to tricky comics problems? Want to share your skills and knowledge? Have nothing to do on Tuesday evenings? 

Joel Christian Gill

The Graphic Medicine Confab is a roundtable conversation focusing on the challenges and techniques of making graphic medicine: comics about everything and anything to do with health, medicine, illness and our bodies. 

There's no charge.

Each meeting has a theme and a facilitator.

The GMC will meet four times this summer via Zoom, Tuesday evenings from 7-7:45 PM (ET).

June 16, Kriota Willberg – How can we make dangerous information less threatening? 
June 30, Joel Christian Gill –  Emotion and style in comics
July 14, Georgia Webber – Collaborating across access needs
July 28, Ben Schwartz – Humor, Comics, and Medicine

Join us to contribute ideas, ask questions, get feedback, and share resources.

Fill out this Google Form and we will send you the Zoom invite to each meet.

Georgia Webber

Joel Christian Gill™  is the chairman, CEO, president, director of development, majority and minority stock holder, manager, co-manager, regional manager, assistant to the regional manager, receptionist, senior black correspondent and janitor of Strange Fruit Comics. He is the author/illustrator of 2 books from Fulcrum Publishing Strange Fruit vol I Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History May 2014 and Tales of the Talented Tenth Fall 2014. In his spare time he is the Chair of Foundations at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and  member of The Boston Comics Roundtable.  He received his MFA from Boston University and a BA from Roanoke College. His latest work is a memoir chronicling how children deal with abuse and trauma: Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence (Oni Press January 2020.) 

Georgia Webber is a comics artist, writer, and editor entirely occupied by the intersection of health and art, making music, comics, and facilitating health workshops.  Georgia is best known for her debut graphic memoir, Dumb: Living Without a Voice (Fantagraphics 2018), the chronicle of her severe vocal injury and sustained vocal condition which causes her pain from using her voice. This difficult experience lead her to work as a Cranial Sacral Therapist, a meditation facilitator, and as an improvising musician. She has extended her love of the voice into the community with a project called MAW Vocal Arts. MAW hosts a vocal arts showcase event and online practice sessions called Breathing. Georgia’s latest book is a collaboration with Vivian Chong, Dancing After TEN (Fantagraphics 2020).
Ben Schwartz

Ben Schwartz,  MD is a staff cartoonist for the New Yorker and an assistant professor of medicine (in surgery) at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. After graduating from medical school at Columbia University and completing an internship in internal medicine, Schwartz decided to take the leap to becoming a full-time cartoonist. Though he no longer practices as a doctor, Schwartz has taken on multiple roles at Columbia, where he teaches comic storytelling in the school’s Narrative Medicine program, serves as Chief Creative Officer for the Department of Surgery, and provides communication strategy to various groups throughout the medical center. 

Kriota Willberg makes comics about the body sciences, medical history, and bioethics. Her book, Draw Stronger: Self-Care for Cartoonists and Visual Artists, is published by Uncivilized Books. Other comics have appeared in:,Spiral Bound (, Comics For Choice, The Graphic Canon, Intima: Journal of Narrative Medicine, and Strumpet 5, among others. Willberg writes a self-care column for the Comics Beat called Get A Grip!. Her comic Silver Wire was nominated for a 2019 Ignatz Award. She teaches graphic medicine and drawing in the Department of Humanistic Medicine at NYU. 

Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Guy deChauliac gave detailed instructions on suturing techniques
in his Major Surgery (1363). I wonder if Guy had heard of or tasted bananas .
Hello! This blog post is for those of you interested the research involved in writing and drawing Silver Wire, an illustrated story of sutures and sewing, which you can find online at Spiral Bound

Because Silver Wireexplores some very sensitive topics like research ethics and the medical histories of enslaved people, women, and the “fathers” of medicine, I think it’s important to show my some of the research for the text and visual references that went into the drawing and images. 

In the comic, I list pages and panel numbers with citations and a bibliography. But here, you’re only getting the bibliography. Why? Because they are both so friggin’ long! It is likely you will give up from exhaustion before getting half way through the bibliography! The citations list includes wry commentary and references to artists and other thinkers who influenced the work. If you are a glutton for research (or punishment), you can buy the minicomic. The comic also has images of some of my medically themed embroidery, and I’ve included some of them here along with select panels from the comic. Pictures make everything better!
A diagram of venous ligatures from 
Bernard and Huette. Printed
on fabric and worked up with

darning stitch used in Blackwork
embroidery. Plus some cross stitch.

If you just want to know where you can find information and images about the history of medicine, and don’t care that much about a list of books or references, try the following sites -- 

Many of the books and images used in the research for making Silver Wire can be found through the New York Academy of Medicine Library Historical Collection from their online collections and at their reading room. Browse their database and make an appointment - they are open to the public! 

The National Library of Medicine Digital Collection is a wondrous site! is an excellent resource for pdfs of historical surgical texts, not to mention documentation of practically everything in all media.

I find the Wellcome Collection image search is a little difficult to maneuver through, but persistence will pay off! 

Annan & Sons, T.R. Joseph Lister, Baron Lister. Wellcome Collection, Glasgow.
Ashenden. Diorama of Listerian Operation . Image via Wellcome Collection.
Bauer and Black.Ligatures and sutures. Chicago: Bauer and Black, 1924?
Bell, Charles 1774-1842. Illustrations of the great operations of surgery : trepan, hernia, amputation, aneurism, and lithotomy. London: Longman, 1821.
Bell, John (1763-1820). The Principles of Surgery. Edinburgh: Printed for T. Cadell, and W. Davies, in the Strand, T.N. Longman & O. Rees, Paternoster Row, London; and W. Creech, P. Hill, and Manners and Miller, 1801-08.
Bell, John. Discourses on the nature and cure of wounds. I. Of generals. Of procuring adhesion. Of wounded arteries. Of gunshot wounds. Of the medical treatment of wounds. II. Of particulars. Of wounds of the breast. Of wounds of the belly. Of wounds of the head. Of wounds of the throat. III. Of dangerous wounds of the limbs. Of the question of amputation ... . Edinburgh: Bell and Bradfute, 1795.
Bernard, Claude, et al. Illustrated manual of operative surgery and surgical anatomy / by Ch. Bernard and Ch. Huette ; edited, with notes and additions, and adapted to the use of the American medical student, by W. H. Van Buren and C. E. Isaacs ; illustrated ... by M.J. Lévillé. New York: H. Balliere, 1855.
In 1626 Adriaan van Spiegel and Giulio Casseri (posthumously) published a book
on fetal development, depicting images of pregnant women standing in nature, their genitals discreetly masked by foliage. Their abdomens and uterine walls are peeled back like flower petals. I used silk, antique lace, bad-, darning-, and satin stitches on this women-are-flowers theme.
Bliquez, Lawrence J. and Ralph Jackson. Roman surgical instruments and other minor objects in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples: with a catalogue of the surgical instruments in the "Antiquarium" at Pompeii. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1994.
Board, Ernest. Robert Liston Operating. Wellcome Library, London.
Bock, Carle Ernst, 1809-1874. Atlas of human anatomy : with explanatory text . Wellcome Collection Images: https://wellcome , n.d.
Boyer, Paul S. and Clifford E. Junior Clark. “Textbook Site for: The Enduring Vision, Fifth Edition, Technology and cultrue: Chaper 18.” n.d. Cengage Learning.2018  23-July. < history/us/boyer/enduring_vision/ 5e/students/techcult/ch18.html>. What to expect. 2018 йил 21-February. 2018 11-June. <>.
Brunshcwig, Hieronymus (ca. 1450-ca. 1512). Liber de arte distillandi de compositis. Strassburg: Johann Gruninger, 1512.
Burch, Jon M., et al. “Single-Layer Continuous Versus Two-Layer Interrupted Intestinal Anastomosis A Prospective Randomized Trial.” Annals of Surgery231.6 (2000): 832-837.
Chartran, Théobald. Ambroise Paré using a ligature on an artery of an amputated leg of a soldier, during the Siege of Metz, 1553. Wellcome Collection.
Cheselden, William (1688-1752). Osteographia, or The anatomy of the bones. London: William Bowyer, 1733.
Colton, Virginia (ed.). Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. Pleasantville, New York/Montreal: Reader's Digest, 1979.
deBeche-Adams, Teresa H. and Jaime L. Bohl. “Rectovaginal Fisturals.” Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery23.2 (2010): 99-103.
Ethicon. "Ethicon Wound Closure Manual." 2005. Penn Medicine.Johnson and Johnson. 8 January 2019. <>.
Fandre, A. Le catgut, les ligatures et les sutures chirurgicales à travers les âges, préface du professeur Louis Bruntz ...Paris: Masson et cie, 1944.
Galen. Method of Medicine, Books 5-9. Ed. Ian Johnston and G.H.R. Horsley. Trans. Ian Johnston and G.H.R. Horsley. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.
I didn't plan on returning to Galen as often as I did during my residency but the guy
is magnetic. What a showman! 
Gilbert, C. Galen treating wounded gladiator in coliseum of Pergamon, 2nd century. Getty Images. Know Yourself, Notions of physology to youth and educated people by Louis Figuier. 1883.
Guy, de Chauliac and E. Nicaise. The Major Surgery of Guy de Chauliac. Trans. Leonard D. Rosenman. Xlibris corporation, 1363, 1890, 2005.
Guy, de Chauliac and Leonard D. Rosenman. The major surgery of Guy de Chauliac : An English Translation. Ed. Translation of Nicaise. Trans. Edouard Nicaise and Leonard D. Rosenman. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2007.
Heath, William, 1795-1840. Wellington and Peel in the roles of the body-snatchers Burke and Hare suffocating Mrs Docherty for sale to Dr. Knox; representing the extinguishing by Wellington and Peel of the Constitution of 1688 by Catholic Emancipation.Wellcome Collection.
Hinckley, Robert Cutler. Robert Cutler Hinckley - “Ether Day, or The First Operation with Ether” - n.d. 5 October 2018.
Hunt, Tony and Frugardo, 12th cent. Ruggero. The medieval surgery / [commentary on the illustrations by] Tony Hunt. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1992.
Johnson and Johnson, Inc. Lister and the ligature, a landmark in the history of modern surgery, compiled by the research readers of the Scientific Department. New Brunswick: Johnson & Johnson, 1925.
Li, Guo-Cai, et al. “Single‑layer continuous suture contributes to the reduction of surgical complications in digestive tract anastomosis involving special anatomical locations.” Molecular and Clinical Oncology2 (2014): 159-164.
Mackenzie, David. The History of Sutures. Paper. The Scottish Society of the History of Medicine. Edinburgh: The Scottish Society of the History of Medicine, 1971.
Madden, John L.Technical Considerations in Gastrointestinal Surgery. Somerville: Ethicon, 1973.
Manigaud, C. Ambroise Paré (1517-1590). Wellcome Collection: Images.
Mattern, Susan P. The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
An oophorectomy is the surgical removal of an ovary. This uterus, worked up in yarn on a thrift store doily, is stitched with the same darning  stitches as the Bernard  and Huette arm, above. I pulled and yanked on the yarn where the right ovary should be, to resemble the tugging of scar tissue.
Medford, Samuel. Father, Mother, and Boy. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Milne, John Stewart. Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907.
Nicaise, E. The major surgery of Guy de Chauliac : surgeon and master in medicine of the University of Montpelier : written in 1363, here re-edited and collated from Latin and French editions and complemented with illustrations, supplemented with notes and an historical introduction about the Middle Ages and the life and the works of Guy de Chauliac. Trans. Leonard D. Rosenman. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2007.
NIH: US National Library of Medicine. Cesarean Section - A Brief History: Part 1 - Cesarean section performed on a living woman by a female practitioner. Miniature from a fourteenth-century "Historie Ancienne.". 27 April 1998. January 2019. <>.
Ogden, Margaret S. The cyrurgie of Guy de Chauliac. London, New York: Society by the Oxford University Press, 1971.
Ojanuga, Durrenda. “The medical ethics of the 'Father of Gynaecology', Dr J Marion Sims.” Journal of medical ethics19 (1993): 28-31.
Paré, Ambroise (1510-1590) and Francis R. (1870-1950) Packard. Life and times of Ambroise Paré <1510-1590> with a new translation of his Apology and an account of his journeys in divers places, by Francis R. Packard ... with twenty-two text illustrations, twenty-seven full page plates and two folded maps of Paris of the 16th and 17th centuries. . New York: P.B. Hoeber, 1921.
Paré, Ambroise.Dix livres de la chirurgie : avec le magasin des instrumens necessaires à icelle / par Ambroise Paré. (1510?-1590). Paris: Cercle du Livre Précieux, 1564.
—. Ten Books of Surgery with The Magazine of Instruments Necessary for It Translated by Robert White Linker and Nathan Womack. Trans. Robert White Linker and Nathan Womack. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969.
—. The Workes of that famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey Translated out of Latine and compared with the French.Trans. Th: Johnson. London: Th:Cotes and R. Young, 1634.
Parker, Rozsika. The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine. London: Women's Press, 1984.
This is a representation of historical research subjects.
The pig is making a sarcastic statement.
Planella Coromina, Josep or Jose (1804-90). "Galen assisting a gladiator, wounded in the circus of Bergamo." n.d. October 2018.
Porter, Roy. The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.
Queen Victoria visiting the Royal Infirmary, Edinurgh. Wellcome Collection. The Illustrated London News and Sketch Ltd.London, England, 1842.
Richardson, Ruth. Death, Dissection and the Destitute. London: Penguin, 1988.
Rose, H.F. Galen, standing in a glade, looks at a human skeleton on the ground. Wellcome Collection.
Ruysch, Frederik (1638-1731). Opera omnia anatomico-medico-chirurgica : huc usque edita. Quorum elenchus pagina sequenti exhibetur, cum figuris aeneis. . Amsterdam: Apud Janssonio-Waesbergios, 1702-1731.
Salazar, Christine F. The Treatment of War Wounds in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Boston: Brill, 2000.
Savage, Henry. The surgery, surgical pathology and surgical anatomy of the female pelvic organs : in a series of coloured plates taken from nature, with commentaries, notes and cases . 3d. Philadelphia: LInday and Blakiston, 1876.
Sims, J. Marion 1813-1883. On the treatment of vesico-vaginal fistula. Philadelphia: Blanchard & Lea, 1853.
—. Silver Sutures in Surgery. New York: Wood, 1858.
This is a lace curtain worked over in wool, linen,
and cotton floss. The image is from a gynecological
surgery book by Henry Savage, demonstrating the
Sims Position for gynecological surgeries.
The floral pattern on thecurtain looked amazingly like a uterus.
Sims, J. Marion. The Story of My Life. New York: Da Cap Press, 1968.
Smellie, William. An abridgement of the practice of midwifery: and a set of anatomical tables with explanations. Collected from the works of the celebrated, W. Smellie, M.D.  . Boston: J. Norman, 1786.
Spiegel, Adriaan van (1578-1625) and Giulio (ca. 1552-1616) Casseri. De formato foetu liber singularis. Padua: Io. Bap. de Martinis and Livius Pasquatus, 1626.
Stamatakos, Michael, et al. “Vesicovaginal Fistula: Diagnosis and Management.” The Indian Journal of Surgery76.2 (2012): 131-136. 2018 йил 2-July. <
Thom, Robert. Sims with Anarcha. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Pearson Museum.
Unknown. "Harriet Tubman." n.d. Wikipedia.5 October 2018. <
Van Gogh, Vincent. Female Nude, Back View
           Accessed via Wikimedia Commons, 9/21/18. Reprography from art book. Paris, 1887.
Vauguion, de La. A compleat body of chirurgical operations : containing the whole practice of surgery ... Faithfully done into English.London: Henry Bonwick, T. Goodwin, M Wotton, B. Took, and S. Manship, 1699.
Wall, LL. “The medical ethics of Dr. J Marion Sims: as fresh look at the historical record.”Journal of Medical Ethics32 (2006): 346-350.
Whaley, Leigh Ann. Women and the practice of medical care in early modern Europe, 1400-1800. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Wikimedia Commons File: John Bell from MPG.jpg. circa 1801. <>.
Ziegler, Paul F. Textbook On Sutures. 2nd Edition. Chicago: The Kendall Company, 1942.

Three Cheers for You! I can’t believe you made it through this thing!


The cover of the mini comic.
How many organs/structures can you identify?

Last fall (2018) I taught a Graphic Medicine course for the NYU School of Medicine's Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine. It was a wonderful experience. I got paid to talk about comics to medical students and hospital staff! 

We read as many genres and artists as I could cram in to a six seminar series. Julia Wertz, Roz Chast, Grant Morrison, Caroline Pequita, Osama Tezuka, Bishakh Som, Iasmin Oma Ata, and oh-so-many-more cartoonists gave us plenty to consider and discuss.

We analyzed the  medical clinical encounter from the perspectives of patients, doctors, caregivers, and more. We explored issues like paternalism, miscommunication in medicine, professional burn out, gender identity, women's health... the list goes on. 

At the end of each class EVERYONE drew. It was fascinating to watch these talented doctors, students, researchers, and nurses, ponder my in-class assignments and create lively, funny, and touching comics in literally minutes!

We drew symptoms, wrote comic strips about personal clinical and academic encounters, designed cute organ mascots, and illustrated popular sayings about health and medicine. "Cute" is not an aesthetic that is usually explored in medical contexts. Illustrating and making (even silly) comics about medicine is a really interesting method for appreciating multiple pathways of communication. Plus it breaks up the intensity of creating uncomfortable narratives.

At the end of the course, we assembled the work into a mini comic. You can see some examples on the Lit Med Magazine site and check out their literature, arts, and medicine database.

Saturday, July 6, 2019


Page 6 of Silver Wire. I decided to
use soft colors for a hard topic.
Author: Kriota Willberg
Since my artist residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, I have been thinking a lot about the way I tend to be more interested or open to an intimidating subject if I have a connection to it though previous experience or knowledge. One thing that researching the histories of domestic sewing and of sutures and ligatures has taught me is that sewing was a universal skill for millennia. These days it may not be as common a skill, but practically everyone understands what it is and the basic techniques and equipment used.

My new comic, Silver Wire, explores the histories of surgery, unethical research, and slavery, by using embroidery as the medium for gaining a little more understanding of these very intimidating subjects. In the narrative, I go to the park with my doctor-friend Mollie for a lesson about surgery and suturing techniques. As we wound and sew up fruit, we explore the histories of medical sewing and decorative sewing, gossiping and joking about the great surgeons of history. But the same techniques that Mollie uses with her patients to relieve their suffering have a dark history that affects us all. 

Yes – my interests in embroidery and history changed my life by giving me a way to wrap my head around the debt global modern medicine owes to the American enslaved! I tear up just thinking about it.

Making this book really honed my understanding of the need for studying history to reconcile ourselves with the present. The following appears on the inside back cover of the book:

Silver Wire page 16.
Author: Kriota Willberg
You know, the New York Academy of Medicine Library changed my life. One day in the Rare Book Room I was reading an introduction by Charles Bell to one of his books (I forget which one.) In it, he addressed the reader and praised them for their curiosity and interest in medicine. He was inspired by his patients and his students who were “young men of science” or something like that. The guy was truly devoted to education. His language was so enthusiastic and welcoming, I felt like he was talking to me, specifically. At the end of the page, he wrote that through a shared interest in science, we are all comrades. His signature began with “Your friend…” 

I am pretty sure that Charles Bell, at the end of the 18thcentury, had no idea that a middle aged, childless, cis-gendered female, massage therapist, cartoonist(!) would read his words and then struggle to keep back her tears of gratitude, but that is what happened. I hope Bell would be pleased.

History is full of love, suffering, service, and cruelty, sometimes all coming from the same source. By weeding through the culture and politics of medicine of the past, we can understand and improve the state of public health today. 

We need voices like Bell, Boivin*, Trota**, yes, and even (that asshole***) Sim’s to be heard, discussed, and acted upon to help us understand the present with some anger and a lot of compassion for people suffering today. We need the past to make a better future.

If you made it through this book and all the crazy citations and comments, thank you! Please consider me…

…Your Friend,

*You probably never heard of her, look her up!
**If you’re one of those people who say she didn’t exist, then replace her name with someone she may represent to you.
***J. Marion Sims was a gynecological surgeon who experimented on enslaved women in the 1840s. His work is a major component of the book. And he was an asshole. His memoir is a huge ego trip where he talks about how touching women’s reproductive organs is the last thing he ever wanted to do. Oh yeah, there’s also the unethical research!

Page 20 of Silver Wire.
Lace and embroidery over an illustration of
"the Sim's position" from a 1876
surgical textbook by Henry Savage.
Silver Wire is a 19-page comic book followed by a whopping 8 pages of citations, notes, and pictures of medically themed embroidery. 

You can read it on (after July 8) and if you want your very own copy, order it from Birdcage Bottom Books or find it at Forbidden Planet or JHU Comics in New York City, or Chicago Comics or Quimby’s in Chicago. 

P.S. (Get your butt to the library!)