Over the past decade, there has been an increasing wealth of graphic narratives around subjects such as cancer and mental issues. However, as I’ve been researching and drawing about my own congenital heart defect, I’ve found a relative lack of comics around cardiovascular conditions. I’ve summarised what I’ve found so far below and would love to hear any other recommendations.
Two graphic memoirs touch on heart issues, both recently published by the excellent Myriad Editions. In Hole in the Heart, Henny Beaumont charts her daughter’s Down’s syndrome – including the diagnosis of and successful surgery for a congenital heart defect. The so-called “dead baby story that is funny”, Billy, Me & You, sees Nicola Streeten dealing with bereavement following her young son’s death after heart surgery.
The Annals of Internal Medicine journal publishes an ever-expanding collection of graphic narratives and comics in their Annals of Graphic Medicine. These include Missed It about a missed diagnosis of aortic stenosis, the self-explanatory Atrial Flutter and Judgement Call which considers pacemaker therapy for an elderly relative.
Scientific cartoons sometimes make it into the popular press, including this one on xenotransplantation in Wired magazine (page 103). There are also numerous newspaper-style one-frame cartoons viewable various archive websites such as CartoonStock and the Cartoonist Group.
Medical Tales Retold is an 25-episode online webcomic dealing with all matters medical, including an excerpt from Palpitations – full version accessible via the Tapastic app on iTunes or Google Play. The same author, The Awkward Yeti, also has a series of over two hundred comics featuring the lovable recurring character Heart (plus his friend Brain) – although these are more humorous then medical!
Finally, as we all know, the Marvel comics character and lead Avenger Iron Man famously uses a magnetic field generator to prevent shrapnel from fatally reaching his heart. I’m also amused to discover the lesser-known Marvel character Cardiac, a vigilante physician/entrepeneur battling corporate greed. Could he be the next entrant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe?