Panel Borders: Doctoring Comics

Concluding radio show Panel Borders month of shows looking at medical comics, they have a talk by Dr. Ian Williams recorded at Laydeez do Comics last month about his work in sequential art including curating Graphic Medicine and creating comic strips under the name Thom Ferrier, followed by a Q and A session featuring questions by Phillipa Perry and Alex Fitch.

Ian did an MA in medical humanities, looking at the discourse of medicine using the conceptual tools of the arts and humanities. He wrote a dissertation on medical narrative in graphic novels and it’s his contention that comic/graphic fiction could be a useful resource for healthcare professionals, patients and carers. Graphic medicine, which he set up in 2007, lists and briefly reviews all the graphic novels and comic books that he has found to be relevant.

‘[When] I set up Graphic Medicine… I thought I was being pretty clever and original,” says Ian, “but after a while I found that there were people out there who had been writing about comics and medicine way before me. People like Scott of Polite Dissent, who also writes about the portrayal of medicine in other media and Ethan Persoff of Comics With Problems. These guys were there first, I am a relative newbie to writing about comics, although I have always loved them (comics, that is).

“Soon after I set up the site, one of the fist people to get in touch was Michael Green of Penn State University Medical School, who had started to teach a comics class to medical students around the time I was doing my MA. There were also articles about comics with medical themes starting to appear in the humanities literature, so it seems like a critical mass was starting to build, and it has got more exciting over the last few years, and will continue to gain momentum over the next few, as people realise that comics can articulate profound truths about the discourse of medicine, and healthcare in general.”

• Panel Borders: Doctoring Comics airs at 5.00pm, Thursday 30th June 2011 on  Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

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