I'm late in mentioning--shouting from the highest rooftops!--that the Call for Papers has been issued and registration is open for the Fifth (!) International Comics and Medicine Conference, to be held June 26-28, 2014 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The theme of the conference is "From Private Lives to Public Health," and keynote speakers are cartoonist Ellen Forney, writer/scholar Arthur W. Frank, and academic Carol Tilley.
These are the conferences I was involved with for a few years, attending the very first one in London as an invited keynoter then helping plan the next ones in Chicago and Toronto. I passed on the fourth conference last year in Brighton, UK--the planning committee didn't need me anymore and a trip to England probably wasn't gonna happen. But Baltimore . . . Baltimore I think I could do . . .
The idea of these conferences is to look at comics in the context of personal medical stories (e.g., Mom's Cancer), public health, education, etc. Medical schools are starting to use comics in their curricula, and a lot of people are recognizing comics as a uniquely powerful communication medium. What happens is you gather a hundred or so doctors, nurses, professors and cartoonists in one place, host a bunch of panels and presentations, and see what they can learn from each other. It's respectful and invigorating, and very cool. Some of the highlights of my personal and professional life have happened at these conferences.
I'm not 100% committed yet, but I think I'd like to go to this one. I have a couple ideas for presentations and/or workshops, and since I used to be on the committee that chose presentations and workshops, I think I have a fair idea of what they're looking for. If I can write up a couple of ideas I'm happy with, I'll send them in and see what happens.
Here's the general Graphic Medicine webpage.
Here's the best page I found with links to the Call for Papers, Registration, Accommodations and Travel info.
And here are some old blog posts summarizing my experiences at the conferences in Toronto, Chicago and London (rereading now, I see the London post is more about touring London than attending a conference--understandably, I hope).
Deadlines are in February. Be there. Aloha.