Earlier this week we launched the City Interaction Lab Podcast with an inaugural episode where we talk about graphic medicine with Dr Simon Grennan (University of Chester) and Peter Wilkins (Douglas College, Vancouver Canada).
In this inaugural episode we discuss work co-designing the comics ‘Parables of Care‘ and ‘I Know How This Ends’ centred on dementia care. These complementary issues shine light on those living with dementia and their carers.
We are aware of the issues with audio levels in this episode; we’ll do better next time!
The original audio file of the podcast has also been deposited in City Figshare.
Priego, Ernesto; Scott, Stuart; Wilkins, Peter; Grennan, Simon (2019): City Interaction Lab Podcast – Episode 1 – Discussing Graphic Medicine and Co-Designed Comics – Parables of Care. City, University of London. Media. https://doi.org/10.25383/city.11347799.v1
More on Parables of Care
Parables of Careexplores the potential of comics to enhance the impact of dementia care research.
The 16-page publication presents in comics form true stories of creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers, adapted from a group of over 100 case studies available at http://carenshare.city.ac.uk.
Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from
If you work in a library, hospital, GP practice or care home- or care for someone with dementia in the UK, you can order a free copy of Parables of Care here: in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.
Creating Comics, Creative Comics is a 2-day academic symposium taking place on Friday June 1st & Saturday June 2nd 2018 at the University of South Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
I will make a presentation Saturday (panel 4) along Simon Grennan on a project we have been doing with Peter Wilkins et al. The title of our presentation is “Hypotactic correspondences between Yonkoma four panel manga, emotional ambiguity and story, in styling and drawing the comic Parables of Care: creative responses to dementia care (2018)”.
The First USW Cardiff: Comics Symposium is interested in creator’s perspectives. It will explore comics and creativity and will examine the practice of creating comics, and the particulars of storytelling in comics.
Does changing a panel, change the story? How might a medium’s materiality affect its construction and reception? How do the theoretical and philosophical objectives of the maker inform and frame the construction of the works?
This symposium addresses these needs from the point of view of the creators involved in the production and creation of comics.
Friday 1st June
09:30 Symposium Registration: Registration Desk, The Street, Atrium
10:30 Symposium Welcome with FCI Deputy Dean, Huw Swayne
10:45 PANEL 1 ~ Philosophy, Communicating Concepts
Dr Peter Hodges, The Last Temptation: A Consideration of the Role of Sound in Comics
Xiyuan Tan, Guoxue Comics: Visualising Philosophical Concepts and Cultural Values Through Sequential Narrative
Ian Hornsby, UCOs, or Beyond the Marriage of Philosophy and Sequential Storytelling
Dr Nathan Kilburn, Practice as Research: The Visual Aphorism
Chair: Corrado Morgana
Chris Phillips, Creating Comics – 5 Page Red Riding Hood
With Geraint D’Arcy
14:30 PANEL 2 ~ Perception and Re/presentation
Jeannette D’Arcy, Creating Canon: Fun Home and Transmedial Adaptation
Dr Robert Hagan, Touch Me/Don’t Touch: Female Archetypes in Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil
Chair: Madelon Hoedt
Dr Julia Round, Anonymous Authors, Invisible Illustrators, and Collaborative Creation: Misty and British Girls’ Comics
Saturday 2nd June
09:15 DAY 2 Welcome
09:30 PANEL 3 ~ Practice-As-Research
Dr Paul Davies, New Choices of the Comics Creator
Ahmed Jameel, Studying Writer-Artist Comics Collaboration: A Practice Based-Approach
Dr John Miers, Fortuitous Realism at Work and Play: The Role of Imaginative Projection in Developing a Cartooning Practice
Chair: Brian Fagence
11:00 PANEL 4 ~ Comics, Parables of Care and the Medical Self
Tony Pickering, Diabetes Year One: Drawing my pathography: comics, poetry and the medical self.
Dr Enesto Priego, Dr Simon Grennan and Dr Peter Wilkins, Hypotactic correspondences between Yonkoma four panel manga, emotional ambiguity and story, in styling and drawing the comic Parables of Care: creative responses to dementia care (2018).
Chair: Emily Underwood-Lee
13:00 CICE PRACTITIONER PANEL
Jon Davis-Hunt and Rob Williams
With Brian Fagence
14:00 PANEL 5 ~ History, Memoir and Autoethnography
Nick Dodds, Reframing the Graphic Memoir: How can the comic-strip artist negotiate modality and fidelity in the depiction of personal and historical narratives?
Dr Simon Grennan, Drawing in Drag: self-observation, the dissenting subject and stylistic reformation in the production of a new pseudonymous comic album
Chair: Geraint D’Arcy
15:00 ROUND TABLE / PLENARY
15:30 SYMPOSIUM END
*In association with Cardiff Indie Comic Expo. Registration for the symposium grants entry to CICE Saturday 2nd June.
Dr Simon Grennan (University of Chester) will present at the HCID Research Seminar series at City, University of London (College Building, Room A214) tomorrow Friday 17 November at 1pm.
All welcome. If you are not a member of City, University of London and would like to join us for this seminar, please contact Katerina.Bourazeri@city.ac.uk for further details.
This seminar will discuss the practical rationale, theorisation and production of Parables of Care, a new 16-page colour comic book, which presents creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers, derived from a group of existing case studies available at http://carenshare.city.ac.uk.
Parables of Care is an impact project of the Centre for HCID, City, University of London, the University of Chester and Douglas College, Canada. Distributed as free hard copies and a free download to carers and those engaged in debates about dementia care, the book investigates the ways in which specific habits of reading comics can be activated in order to engage readers emotionally, as well as informatively, concerning the challenges of caring for people with dementia.
Simon Grennan: I was immediately fascinated by the combination of descriptions of emotional/physical challenges and the extreme brevity of the case studies. The stories told by carers already conformed to a rather strict pattern derived from a proforma, designed to enable speedy access to the information that each story provides, for readers. This might have denuded the case studies of their affective aspects, but in fact, it focused and intensified them. That was immediately striking and interesting.
What was the most challenging for you in the drawing process?
SG: The editorial task for Peter, Ernesto and I involved considering how this combination of emotional impact, information and brevity could be visualised. The concept of the parable offered an accurate description of the stories as told by carers: the original stories already had the effect of parables.
We lighted upon a key aspect of the parable – its function of representing big effects (issues, truths, significant ideas) by small means. This ‘big in small’ characteristic was actually quite easy to visualise, because there is a great range of visual models, particularly in the history and traditions of the comic strip: visual gags, for example.
We immediately thought of the four panel Japanese ‘yonkoma‘ joke strips, which follow a set pattern for divisions of action. The form both produces and disperses ambiguity. That’s the way in which it works as a visual joke. Although the Care’N’Sharestories aren’t jokes, by any means, part of their ‘parable’ character articulates exactly this manipulation of clarity and ambiguity. This seemed like a form particularly suited to these particular stories about dementia care, in which initial challenges to capacity, comprehension and communications are overcome by creative means.
In each story, there is a challenging scenario resulting from a specific experience of dementia, which is then reflected/acted up and finally resolved. For me, the task was then to visually articulate this balance of ambiguity and clarity in the narrative drawing, first creating a level of affective unclarity in the reader that I then develop and finally resolve.
As with visual jokes, creating the right affective balance between ambiguity and clarity is the main task. Too much ambiguity and the reader doesn’t know what’s happening. To much clarity and the reader has no emotional stake in the story. In both of these scenarios, the joke (or in this case, affect) disappears and the story fails.
I hope that I’ve managed to get the balance right! If so, each story should function as a parable, packing a lot of emotional punch (and taking the reader from ambiguity to clarity) with very few means.
‘A Theory of Narrative Drawing’: what theoretical principles did you apply in Parables of Care?
That’s an interesting question. My new book A Theory of Narrative Drawing seeks to explain experiences of drawn stories, but it’s not quite a handbook for drawing stories! However, one of the interesting things about Parables of Care is its self-announcing, overt reliance upon the reader to articulate the visual story and the story world. Of course, the reader always undertakes this articulation, in every story.
However, in Parables of Care, this is entirely due to the creation of ambiguity in each story. These are stories where a reader feels that they can or are making mistaken readings or, if the stories don’t clarify themselves for some readers, they think that the stories are simply incoherent or/and badly told. It is only when a reader realises that ‘making mistakes’ is an affective substitute for aspects of the experiences of dementia that are told about in each story, for example, that the sensation of ambiguity is transformed, located and resolved. This is entirely the type of affective reading that A Theory of Narrative Drawing explains.
What are you hopingParables of Care can achieve?
SG:I hope that Parables of Care will focus attention on the emotional aspects of dementia care. We have worked hard to introduce readers to the (largely non-clinical) experience of dementia care by providing them with affective sensations of ambiguity, including a sense of inexplicable altered capacity, frustration and maybe a sense of powerlessness. These sensations are turned around and articulated in each story, retaining the emotional intelligence and creativity of the resolutions to challenging situations. The reader goes throught this process too, and reaches a similar clarity and resolve.
Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from City Research Online: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/18245/.
If you live in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.