Ootastic: PCOS in pictures

June 28, 2016

PCOS in pictures: I’m not an artist but…

Filed under: comics, PCOS — ootastic @ 9:48 pm

This is a version of the lightning talk I might have given at next week’s Graphic Medicine 2016 Conference if I’d managed to submit my abstract in time!

Around this time last year I went to my first LaydeezDoComics meeting in London.  Whilst chatting to the other ladies there it struck me that I kept hearing the same phrase:

“I’m not an artist but…I draw this webcomic.”

“I’m not an artist but…my friends and I put together this magazine.”

“I’m not an artist but…I made this cake.”

This led me to think about the roles I play in life relating to comics and medicine.  First of all, I’m not an artist but I am a patient. Around 2010 when I was struggling to get pregnant I was diagnosed with the hormonal condition polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS.  This is estimated to affect one in five women and has a number of annoying symptoms which I started doodling about – as you can see below, these include acne, excess hair, weight gain and fertility problems.

Femme fatale

Out, damned spot

Next, I’m not an artist but I am a science fiction fan.  I started incorporating some film and TV references (mainly bad puns) into my drawings.  Below left you can see the replicant Pris from Blade Runner whose famous blonde hair seems to have spread and become more of a blade ruiner. Below right is the USS Uterus whose anatomical features always remind me of a certain fictional starship.

Pris USS Uterus

This leads me on to say I’m not an artist but I am a scientist.  I originally studied human anatomy and now work as a bioinformatician for a scientific software/services company. I spend my day playing around with data and graphs and trying to avoid the biscuit tin in the office kitchen.

Facts and figures

I’m not an artist but – perhaps most importantly – I’m a mother.  After a few years and two miscarriages I finally gave birth to my son, who is now three years old.  My pregnancy was difficult for other health reasons as I have a congenital heart condition, which I’ve drawn about in a couple of entirely separate longer comics.  Being a mum means having to balance my son’s needs (football, baking, CBeebies, etc.) with my own (work, chores, sleep) which leaves precious little spare time for exercise and drawing comics!

Tipping the balanceFinally, I’m not an artist but I am a comics fan.  I was introduced to Watchmen at my friend’s monthly book club, complete with themed Rorschach biscuits.  This may have inspired the drawing – titled ComiConfectionary – below in which I’ve tempted various superhero identities to the dark (chocolate) side.


Somewhere along the way I picked up Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies, which really resonated as my mum died of a brain tumour in 2000 (the topic of yet another comic).  I honestly can’t remember how and when I discovered the Graphic Medicine website, but I’m glad I did!

I’ve spent the past few months (since well before the conference submission deadline) thinking about what I wanted to say here but have actually found it surprisingly straightforward to write, even if it does contain more food references than I’d hoped for.  Overall, I think I could say that – as well as being as a PCOS patient, science fiction fan, scientist, mother and comics fan – maybe I am an artist after all!  How about you?

For more information and support about PCOS see the Verity website.







June 25, 2016

30 Film Females: The Reader (2008)

Filed under: 30 Film Females, books — ootastic @ 9:54 pm

I was treated to a rare lie-in this morning as my three year old son happily stayed in bed reading his Mr Men book.  In the current stormy weather – both climatic and politic – I appreciate more than ever the benefits of a good book (and publicly funded libraries).  The ever excellent Kate Winslet finally won an Oscar for her role in The Reader as the former concentration camp guard whose burgeoning literacy leads to the discovery of truth and acceptance.  I don’t feel qualified to comment on the greater themes of the film, but am happy to endorse a love of books and the emotions – whether escapism, empathy or even disgust – they invoke.  So…what are you reading?

Honourable mentions for 2008: Keira Knightley navigating the double standards of 18th century aristocracy as The Duchess.  Also, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski joyfully shaking their middle-aged booties in Mamma Mia!


June 11, 2016

30 Film Females: Lost In Translation (2003 again)

Filed under: 30 Film Females, TTC — ootastic @ 7:35 pm

I’ve recently finished reading the autobiography of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby.  I was reminded of this doodle which echoes the isolation and frustration of Scarlett Johansson’s neglected wife in Lost In Translation.

Suffering for your ART

June 6, 2016

30 Film Females: Looper (2012 again)

Filed under: 30 Film Females — ootastic @ 8:59 pm

Without resorting to spoilers, Emily Blunt excels as a protective mother amidst the timey-wimey-ness of the sci-fi crime thriller Looper.  While repeated viewings (e.g. due to cinema fire alarm) help dissipate the plot confusion and bleakness, my brother still complains that Bruce Willis and Joe Gordon-Levitt have different shaped ear lobes.  A mo[e]bius comic strip seemed too obvious, so instead I took inspiration from the upcoming Rio Olympics (rings, loops, whatever) and look forward to seeing less gun-related exertion on screen.




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