Visualizing the Stigma of Illness – David B.’s Black Paths

Over the past decade, authors have increasingly privileged graphic storytelling for their memoirs, with a recurrent focus on the impact of disease in their or their close ones’ lives. Graphic pathographies (illness narratives in comics form) are now being used and fostered in medical and patient education as an engaging teaching tool and a source of valuable insights into the personal experience of illness.

Following on the success of Comics and Medicine: Medical Narrative in Graphic Novels (London 2010)  and Comics and Medicine: The Sequential Art of Illness (Chicago 2011), the Thought Bubble Comics Forum in Leeds will host the third Graphic Medicine conference: Visualizing the Stigma of Illness (17th November 2011), which I am organizing with my colleagues Ian Williams, Columba Quigley and M.K. Czerwiec.

Darryl Cunningham, author of Psychiatric Tales, will give a keynote lecture and international delegates from different backgrounds will address the depiction of illness-related stigma in graphic novels, as well as investigate their educational potential. You can get a taste of Comics Forum from its lively blog. And this week’s blogpost has a distinctive medical humanistic flavour, as it features my reading of David B.’s Black Paths, published in English for the first time last month. Best known for Epileptic, his autobiographical work about the impact of his brother’s severe epilepsy on their family, David B. retells here a historical event (the interwar siege of Fiume) through the eyes of his fictional protagonist Lauriano, a shellshocked soldier.

So, keep an eye on the Comics Forum website: a list of confirmed speakers will be published soon and registration will open in the following weeks. See you in Leeds!


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