New comic: X Utero

Just back from the printers – my full-colour 20-page collection of 10 short comics created between 2011 and 2013 (many of which I’ve shared here). The themes are reproductive status, language used around miscarriage, heredity etc. Some are very personal but some seem to have proved relevant to others who’ve had similar experiences (judging by responses I’ve had since I began sharing them).

Availability: It’s for sale here at my comics shop. I’ll be taking it to Ethics Under Cover: Comics, Medicine & Society (4th International Conference on Comics and Medicine) where I’ll also be presenting work in progress at 9am on 7th July. It will also soon be available from Wellcome Bookshop on the Graphic Medicine bookshelf. Wellcome will have a table selling their Graphic Medicine titles at the Narrative Medicine Conference, June 19-21st, and X Utero will be included. I’ve just found out that Linda Humphreys MSc, will mention some of my images in her presentation at the same conference. She used some of my comics in her reflective writing class for Genetic Counselling students at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

This comic is probably the last on this particular subject matter I’ll share until my book is finished. And, I’m afraid the title and cover of X Utero comprise a shameless play on the band Nirvana’s final album In Utero. It seemed fitting!

My next printed thing is likely to be Motorways – more of a sketchbook collection and not an anthropomorphised uterus in sight!

A cluster of cells?

This was originally intended as a one-off piece, but, on finishing it, I’m thinking that it might just be one panel of something bigger (something bigger I haven’t done yet). This is another example of reasoning about miscarriage – early miscarriage in particular. Again, it might help some people to think of it in a purely biological way. For many people, though, it’s much more emotional and involves the broader legacy of what has happened rather than the physiology alone. It’s about what the cluster of cells represents.

I drew the cells diagrammatically, as you might see under a microscope, to represent the cold biological facts. The photos in the DNA strand are of my grandmothers, and I hope these add an element of humanness to a statement which is very pragmatic. I’m not sure it works on anyone other than me though. Feel free to let me know, but, as I mentioned, it might be the start of something more in-depth.

Not sure if a ‘speaking arm’ works or not (rh speech bubble). What can I say? It was all very ‘bodily’ and vocally unexpressed at the time. Not that my arm has ever had the ability to speak other than what comes out of the end of it onto a page in the hope of communicating something.

Also – having trouble with colours. This is meant to appear as warm browns and browny-pinks. I’m hoping to get a better monitor more geared to truer colour generation. Last time I was producing digital work, many moons ago, I was using an iMac, but have since ‘gone over to the other side’!

Bloggin’ the blog

Last week was unusually busy for me on other blogs, so here’s a round-up:

First, Joe Gordon, editor of Forbidden Planet International was kind enough to offer the finalists in the First Fictions First Graphic Novel Competition the chance to guest on the Director’s Commentary series for a day each. Mine can be read here. I was quite pleased with the response to this with some new followers and positive noises.

Also, a podcast of the talk I did last November at Comics Forum/ Thought Bubble now appears here on the Graphic Medicine blog. As a result of this, and the image above, I was approached by Linda Humphreys MSc of Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. I’ve given her permission to use some of my work in her teaching materials for a reflective writing class taken by Genetic Counselling students. She currently uses Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies, so I’ll be in good company. I didn’t have a particular audience in mind when I created these images, but I’m happy that Linda suggests they might “stimulate student reflection and encourage empathy with the (illness) narratives of others.”

Finally, I wrote about my experiences of attending two Arvon Foundation writing courses for Paul Gravett‘s blog. Katie Green also contributed to this and you can read it here.

Stained glass window in the toilet at Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank, Yorkshire

The Hurst, Arvon Centre in Shropshire.