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The Arts and Medicine
December 19, 2017

Graphic Medicine: The Best of 2017

Author Affiliations
  • 1Departments of Humanities and Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • 2Pennsylvania State University, University Park
JAMA. 2017;318(23):2280-2281. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.18637

Graphic medicine flourished in 2017. In a year of turmoil and change, artists and writers continued to use the medium of comics in a manner consistent with its historical role—to challenge conventions, question assumptions, and address taboo topics by combining words and images sequentially.

Two book-length comics stood out in a crowded field: Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love1 by Marissa Moss and Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 by MK Czerwiec.2 These memoirs both address death and dying, speaking from the perspective of a family caregiver in Last Things and from the perspective of a nurse in Taking Turns. In an era where there is no shortage of memoirs about illness and dying, these works offer bracing alternatives to conventional narratives that typically reach for a silver lining when addressing experiences of illness, pain, suffering, and inevitable decline.

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