Tag Archives: graphic novel

Beaumont, Henny. Hole in the Heart: Bringing up Beth


On Mother’s Day 2004 Henny Beaumont gave birth to her third child. For the first few hours, her baby seemed no different to her two other little girls.

With stunning art and refreshing honesty, Henny describes how family life changed the moment the registrar told her and her husband that their daughter might have Down’s Syndrome. She knew that her life was over. How can this weak little baby, who would demand so much more from Henny than her other two children, and who would need an operation in order to survive, provoke such feelings of hatred and resentment? How can Henny learn to love her? And if she can’t trust her own reactions to Beth, how can she expect other people to overcome their prejudices and ignorance about her condition?

Publisher: Myriad Editions
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 1908434929

Ball, Rachel. The Inflatable Woman

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Iris (or balletgirl-42 as she’s known on the internet dating circuit) is a zookeeper looking for love when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Overnight, her life becomes populated with a carnival of daunting hospital characters. Despite the attempts of her friends – Maud, Granma Suggs, Larry the Monkey and a group of singing penguins – to comfort her, Iris’s fears begin to encircle her until all she has to cling to is the attention of a lighthouse keeper called sailor_buoy_39.

The Inflatable Woman combines magic realism with the grit of everyday life to create a poignant and surreal journey inside the human psyche.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 140885807X



Briggs, Raymond. Ethel & Ernest: A True Story

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“Ethel and Ernest were solid members of the English working class, part of the generation that lived through the most tumultuous years of the twentieth century. They met during the Depression–she working as a maid, he as a milkman–and we follow them as they court and marry, make a home, raise their son, and cope with the dark days of World War II. Briggs’s portrayal of how his parents succeeded, or failed, in coming to terms with the events of their rapidly shifting world–the advent of radio, television, and telephones; the development of the atomic bomb; the moon landing; the social and political turmoil of the sixties–is irresistibly engaging, full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.”

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1999
ISBN-10: 0375407588

Green, Justin. Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary

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A lost classic of underground cartooning, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is Justin Green’s autobiographical portrayal of his struggle with religion and his own neuroses. Binky Brown is a young Catholic battling all the usual problems of adolescence–puberty, parents, and the fear that the strange ray of energy emanating from his private parts will strike a picture of the Virgin Mary. Deeply confessional, with artwork that veers wildly between formalist and hallucinogenic, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is the controversial masterpiece that invented the autobiographical graphic novel.

Publisher: McSweeney’s
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 193478155X

Marchetto, Marissa. Cancer Vixen


“What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine-swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, about-to-get-married big-city girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds . . . a lump in her breast?” That’s the question that sets this powerful, funny, and poignant graphic memoir in motion. In vivid color and with a taboo-breaking sense of humor, Marisa Acocella Marchetto tells the story of her eleven-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer—from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between.

Publisher: Pantheon Books
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 037571474X

(spoiler alert)

For a review on the Graphic Medicine site click >here<

Tristram, Matilda. Probably Nothing: A Diary of Not Your Average Nine Months


At 31, Matilda Tristram was 17 weeks pregnant and looking forward to having her first baby. Then she discovered she had bowel cancer.

This touching and hilarious graphic memoir, which is never morose or self-pitying, starts at the moment Matilda was diagnosed and ends when her course of chemotherapy finishes in October 2013. Recording the awkward conversations, the highs and lows of treatment, the mixed blessings of receiving ‘Get Well’ cards, and the reality of still having to queue too long for croissants, Matilda captures her experiences with style and warmth. Along the way she learns to cherish the small details of life. Her beautiful and boisterous son was born without complications and is reliably keeping her up most nights.

Publisher: Viking
Year: 2014
ISBN-10: 0241004152

Fies, Brian. Mom’s Cancer

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An honest, unflinching, and sometimes humorous look at the practical and emotional effect that serious illness can have on patients and their families, “Mom’s Cancer” is a story of hope–uniquely told in words and illustrations. Brian Fies is a freelance journalist whose mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. As he and his two sisters struggled with the effects of her illness and her ongoing recovery from treatment, Brian processed the experience in his journal, which took the form of words and pictures.

Publisher: Abrams
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 0810971070

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Small, David. Stitches: A Memoir

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One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die. In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David-a highly anxious yet supremely talented child-all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage. Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse. Edward Small, a Detroit physician, who vented his own anger by hitting a punching bag, was convinced that he could cure his young son’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, possibly causing David’s cancer. Elizabeth, David’s mother, tyrannically stingy and excessively scolding, ran the Small household under a cone of silence where emotions, especially her own, were hidden. Depicting this coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen-with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist-will resonate as the ultimate survival statement. A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 0393068579

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Leavitt, Sarah.Tangles: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me

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What do you do when your outspoken, passionate, and quick-witted mother starts fading into a forgetful, fearful woman? In this powerful graphic memoir, Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother Midge–and her family–forever.In spare black and white drawings and clear, candid prose, Sarah shares her family’s journey through a harrowing range of emotions–shock, denial, hope, anger, frustration–all the while learning to cope, and managing to find moments of happiness. Midge, a Harvard-educated intellectual, struggles to comprehend the simplest words; Sarah’s father Rob slowly adapts to his new role as full-time caretaker, but still finds time for word-play and poetry with his wife; Sarah and her sister Hannah argue, laugh, and grieve together as they join forces to help Midge get to sleep, rage about family friends who have disappeared, or collapse in tears at the end of a heartbreaking day.”Tangles” provides a window on the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately opens a knot of moments, memories, and dreams to reveal a bond between a mother and a daughter that will never come apart.

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 1616086394

Read a review on Graphic Medicine site >here<

Czerwiec MK, Williams I, Squier SM, Green MJ, Myers KR, Smith ST. Graphic Medicine Manifesto

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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 written by the editorial team with previously unpublished visual narratives by Ian Williams and MK Czerwiec and includes comic avatars by a wide range of graphic medicine contributors—all in an arresting format. The first section comprises essays by Scott Smith and Susan Squier. It argues that as a new area of scholarship, research on graphic medicine has the potential to challenge the boundaries of conventional academic disciplines, to raise questions about their foundations, and to 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 have the potential to engage members of the health professions with literary and visual representation and symbolic practices, offering patients, family members, physicians, and other caregivers new ways to experience and work with the challenges and complexity of the medical experience. The final section, featuring essays by Ian Williams and MK Czerwiec, focuses on the practice of creating graphic narratives; iconography used in the graphic narrative; drawing as social practice; and the nature of comics as visual rhetoric. A conclusion (in comics form) testifies to the diverse and growing community that is graphic medicine. Finally, two bibliographies—one of comics and the other of scholarly references—provide a valuable resource for readers.

Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press,
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 0271066490

B, David. Epileptic

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The most acclaimed European graphic novel of the last ten years, Epileptic is David B.’s story of his brother’s battle with epilepsy – but it turns into a penetrating and sometimes lacerating self-examination on the author’s part, as he delves into his own complex emotions and his family’s troubled history, as well as his own youthful fantasy life. Particularly pointed is his description of the family journey from one attempted cure to another, including acupuncture, spiritualism and macrobiotics.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0224079204

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Williams, I. The Bad Doctor



“Cartoonist and doctor Ian Williams takes his stethoscope to Dr Iwan James, a rural GP in need of more than a little care himself. Incontinent old ladies, men with eagle tattoos, traumatised widowers, Iwan’s patients cause him both empathy and dismay, further complicated by his feelings for his practise partners: unrequited longing for Dr Lois Pritchard and frustration at the antics of Dr Robert Smith, who will use any means to make Iwan look bad in his presence. Iwan’s cycling trips with his friend and mentor, Arthur, provide some welcome relief for him.”

Year: 2014
ISBN-10: 1908434287

(spoiler alert)

For a review of the book on the Forbidden Planet blog click here

Peeters, Frederick. Blue Pills a positive love story

One summer night at a teenage house party, Fred met Cati.Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembers her gracefulness juxtaposed with a wonderful, wild abandon. They meet again at a New Year’s Party in 1999, and this time their connection is instantaneous. A few weeks later, when it looks like things might get serious, a very nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters’ traces the development of their emotional and sexual intimacy. The silver lining in their lives is the wonderful, down-to-earth doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to confront their fears about sex and fully realize their passionate connection. But when Cati’s son gets sick and they have to administer a gruelling treatment (including the blue pills of the title), Fred comes face to face with death. His questions about life, love and illness are played out in a Socratic dialogue with a (very wise) mammoth who ultimately helps him to recognize that living with illness is also a gift; it has freed him to savour his life with Cati.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 2008
ISBN-10: 0224082396

Viewer Comments:

I enjoyed this graphic novel. Frank and insightful in it’s handling of relationships against the background of HIV in the age of HAART. I do like the way graphic novels allow new ways of expressing inner thoughts.

Wright, Aneurin. Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park …*when you are 29 and unemployed*

Nye’s father has been certified for hospice care, but Nye would rather move into his father’s trailer and take care of him himself. In this masterful, graphic portrayal of a father and son dealing with home care, Wright’s mastery allows the reader to witness the deepest emotions on many levels, where what is said is only half the story.The graphic vocabulary, in a palette of blue, red and black, is carefully planned. Flights of visual fancy express genuine emotion rooted in reality.

Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 1908434104

Viewer Comments:

I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It is funny and inventive and deals (I think very movingly and honestly) in the relationships within families and the tensions and challenges that caring for someone at the end of life brings. This is a book I have already started to lend (which I never do), and I would recommend it as a thought provoking read for students at any part of the course. You can find out more about the backstory to the book and the writer at the dedicated website.