Now in its tenth year the International Graphic Medicine Conference returns to Brighton from July 11th-13th. Graphic medicine has arguably been one of the most influential strands of comics over the last several years in terms of bringing in new readers to the medium by underlining its power in communicating shared experience. It’s certainly been a huge focus of our reviewing output here at BF over the last decade. The official press release for the conference is below and don’t forget to give the Graphic Medicine Twitter account a follow too.
International comics conference challenges traditional ways of thinking about gender, identity and healthcare
Over 150 delegates are to be hosted by Brighton and Sussex School of Medicine at the Sallis Benney Theatre in central Brighton, 11-13th July 2019
Brighton and Sussex Medical School, in conjunction with the Graphic Medicine International Collective (GMIC) is pleased to announce that the 10th International Graphic Medicine Conference will be returning to Brighton. The conference was hosted in the city in 2013 and was a huge success, attracting comics artists, healthcare professionals, librarians and academics from around the world. Previous conferences have also been held in London, Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, Dundee, and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, featuring big names from the world of graphic novels, such as Scott McCloud, Ellen Forney, David B and Lynda Barry.
Graphic Medicine explores the intersection of comics and healthcare. The term is used to refer to both an area of academic interest, the practice of using comic art in healthcare, and the growing international community of people working in this area, which has prided itself on diversity and inclusion, seeking to give voices, through the medium of comics, to those who are marginalised or ignored.
This yearʼs theme, “Que(e)rying Graphic Medicine” responds to recent events including the #metoo movement and the ʻComicsgateʼ campaign, evoking ʻqueer theoryʼ to explore themes of gender, sexuality, intersectionality and subversion in healthcare through the use of the comic art.
Conference organiser Dr Muna Al-Jawad, a physician who also makes comics says ʻOur conference title is deliberately tricky. ʻQueeringʼ something is about refusing binaries and giving a voice to those who are usually silenced through not belonging. It can refer to gender, sexuality, and intersexuality, but it can also be a lens through which to understand other forms of personal, cultural, and political subversion.
Prof Bobbie Farsides, Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics, says ʻWeʼve had a huge response to our call for papers, with 149 proposals from 21 different countries. This shows that Graphic Medicine has become a truly global movement, and this yearʼs conference is going to be very exciting.ʼ
Dr Ian Williams, comics artist, GP and author of The Bad Doctor and The Lady Doctor, adds ʻIʼve seen the conferences develop, year on year. People really get what is happening. Every time there is this wonderful buzz as new conversations start and new projects are initiated. This year is going to be no exception, itʼs going to be great fun.ʼ
Ellen Forney, bestselling author of Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me refers to the yearly conference as ʻOur Burning Man Festivalʼ.
Keynote speakers include:
MK Czerwiec (below, right) has been making comics under the pseudonym Comic Nurse since 2000. She has an MA in Medical Humanities and Bioethics from Northwestern University, where she teaches a course to first and second year medical students. She is the creator of Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 (Penn State University Press, 2017) which was nominated for a 2018 Excellence in Graphic Literature award. MK is a co-author of the Eisner-nominated Graphic Medicine Manifesto (PSU Press, 2014). She is a co-manager of the website GraphicMedicine.org and host of the Graphic Medicine podcast.
Meg-John Barker (above, left) is the author of a number of popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History (with Julia Scheele), How To Understand Your Gender (with Alex Iantaffi ) Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To) (with Justin Hancock), Rewriting the Rules, The Psychology of Sex, and The Secrets of Enduring Love (with Jacqui Gabb). They co-founded the journal Psychology & Sexuality and the activist-research organisation BiUK, through which they published The Bisexuality Report. They have advised many organisations, therapeutic bodies, and governmental departments on matters relating to gender, sexual, and relationship diversity (GSRD).
The conference begins with an evening event held Thursday, July 11th, and then consists of two days of a mix of peer-reviewed academic papers, lectures, and workshops. Registration for the conference is required, but some events will be open to the public.
The Graphic Medicine International Collective (GMIC) draws together cartoonists, health care practitioners, scholars, patients, librarians, people with disabilities, family members and the general public to explore the role the medium of comics can have in improving the understanding, practice, and sense of patient agency in relation to health, medicine and disability. These educational efforts are achieved through annual conferences, a website, podcast, and a variety of other means.