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Meanwhile, Back in the Library...Comics: Issue 3: Comics & well-being

Feeling drawn: Comics and personal well-being

Feeling drawn: Comics and personal well-being

One common subject for graphic novels is health and wellbeing. A few of these works are fictional: but many of them are part of the substantial autobiographical movement within comics, using the medium's potent combination of image and text to directly express the writer's experiences. Some of these comics examine mental illness; some look at with disabilities or physical conditions; others deal with personal and family crises; and yet others may just cover ordinary, everyday life. The treatment of these situations can vary from an unflinching naturalism to highly expressionistic or symbolic approaches that seek to evoke feeling and sensations. Some of these works were created over the course of an illness or crisis, as a way of recording and managing the issue.

Comics can be a very effective way of communicating the experience of living with a health issue: there is an academic Graphic Medicine movement, investigating the different ways comics could be used as a resource for health professionals.

You can find a wider selection of comics about well-being on our exhibition reading list.

Mental health

With their ability to represent subjective experience through image and panel structure, comics are ideal for conveying the sensations and emotions that come with mental illness.

Depression: when words aren't available

Some of the comics in our collection are designed to help people articulate their feelings at those times when they are least able to.

These two short books use striking visual metaphors to communicate sufferer's experience of depression to their friends and family.

There are similar books aimed at children, using potent visuals to help them understand and manage negative feelings.

Personal crises

Not all problems are medical: several comics in the library explore problems such as difficulties finding work and housing, or the stresses of being a student or researcher.

Supportive fictions

While many of the books on this page are autobiographical, there are also several relevant works of fiction. What they might lose in individual experience, they can gain by anonymising and universalising a topic.

Stay well, stay safe

The Student Wellbeing Service can help you manage personal issues that might impact on your studies and your life, and we offer a range of options to support you during your time here.

You can find out more about our support by searching the MyHallam search box with these words - student wellbeing service.

Illness and death in the family

There are also several memoirs in the comics collection about living with- and caring for- parents or siblings who were facing severe illness, ageing or death.

Family and Children

Although it is often not openly discussed, parenthood doesn't always go as you told it is supposed to go: as these comics honestly illustrate, matters such as miscarriage, adjusting to raising a child with a disability, or the death of a child can give people a very different experience.

Coping with illness

There are graphic medicine accounts of living with chronic or life-threatening conditions: but as much as the illness itself, they also look at dealing with the treatments and medical profession, who aren't always any less of a trial than the disease.

Recommend something for the Library

We are always looking for new publications to support your learning and teaching, and to keep the library collections up to date with high-quality materials.  If you think we're missing something crucial though, we'd like to hear about it.  

You can suggest a purchase to the Library using the Suggest a Purchase link below.