Monday, December 13, 2010

Graphic Medicine: Call for Papers

Some of you may remember that I had the honor and fun of being a keynote speaker at a conference on Graphic Medicine in London last June. I must've looked like I had too much fun, because the organizers of that event asked me to help plan the next one and I said "yes."

It's scheduled for June 9-11, 2011 at Northwestern University in Chicago, and we're looking for interesting material to fill two days (expanded from the single day in London) of talks, workshops, panels, and general fol-de-rol. Stitches author David Small is a confirmed speaker and we're negotiating with other big-name creators to appear as well.

Some excerpts from our Call for Papers:

We invite proposals for scholarly papers (15 minutes), poster presentations, and panel discussions (60 minutes), focused on medicine and comics in any form (e.g., graphic novels, comic strips, graphic pathographies, manga, and/or web comics) . . . We also welcome workshops (120 minutes) by creators of comics on the process, rationale, methods, and general theories behind the use of comics to explore medical themes. These are intended to be “hands-on” interactive workshops for participants who wish to obtain particular skills with regard to the creation or teaching about comics in the medical context.

We envision this gathering as a collaboration among humanities scholars, comics scholars, comics creators, healthcare professionals, and comics enthusiasts.

300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday, 28 February 2011 to

The full Call for Papers is available at If I didn't think this was worth doing, I wouldn't be doing it.


Jim O'Kane said...

Brian, what was the geographical distribution of the participants at the London conference last year?

Brian Fies said...

Just based on the people I met and spoke to, I'd guess about half from the UK, one-third from North America (quite a few Canadians in addition to us USAans), and the remainder from continental Europe and elsewhere.

Jim O'Kane said...

I'm not sure what the North American side of the activity in this (for lack of a better term) market is, but I'm surprised at the paucity of an Asian presence in the conference. Does the Japanese market focus on manga preclude more traditional graphic literature, especially in medically-themed narratives?

Brian Fies said...

I think you're overthinking it. It was a small, first-of-its-kind conference that wasn't heavily promoted, and Japan is a long way from London.

As I recall, some speakers did address medical themes in manga--they just weren't Japanese. (Just looked at last year's program; in fact, one of the two afternoon sessions was on that topic, including a talk by Ada Palmer, a history prof (and nice person) who's written extensively about Tezuka). It exists; I don't know enough about the Asian comics market to say much more than that.

R said...

Aw, it's not being held in London again? I thought we might be able to scrape up a good excuse to go back! ;)

But it's cool that you're helping to set it up this time! does this mean you get to go to Chicago too?

Brian Fies said...

If the timing works out and I can afford the trip, sure! Sorry about London; guess you're on your own for that.

Jim O'Kane said...

Just a note on Chicago landmarks: both Gemini XII and Apollo 8 are at the Adler Planetarium - - if you want to continue with amorous rendezvous with spaceships.

Anonymous said...

Just an idea: Ask Lynn Johnston of FBOW. She did (humorous) medical illustration for a living before becoming a cartoonist. At least I think she wrote about that in the 10th anniversary book of FBOW.

Brian Fies said...

Good idea, Anon. Now that you mention it, I remember that about Ms. Johnston. Thanks!