“Comics remind us of something deep inside ourselves that we’ve forgotten.”
This is how Dana Walrath explains the subconscious power of comics, and why they have inspired her work as a medical anthropologist, a storyteller, and a caregiver. On the afternoon of Friday, November 6th Dana came to speak about her book Aliceheimer’s, and how her mother Alice’s experiences with dementia guided Dana towards graphic storytelling.
“For a moment, be like someone with dementia, holding onto those earliest memories,” Dana began. “Most of them are visual. Pictures tap into subconscious processes for both the composer and the reader.” This is where Dana embarked on her exploration of Graphic Medicine, a movement that seeks to heal through comics. “Subconsciously we associate comics with laughter, and all of us need permission to laugh at sickness,” Dana explained. “Laughter is respite; it gives us new ideas of how to cope.”
Dana certainly had us laughing, with colorful anecdotes of her mother’s “altered magic state.” But there were plenty of teary eyes in the room (mine included, I’ll admit!) as she addressed matters that affect us all: how to tell stories for and about our aging loved ones, and how these stories can heal. With humor, grace, and insight, Dana provided us with a healthy dose of graphic medicine for the mind.
Dana’s new book, Like Water on Stone, is a YA novel about a family’s journey during the Armenian Genocide. You can read more about Dana’s work on her website: http://danawalrath.com/
Thank you to all who attended this inspiring event!
Guest post by Amy Chalmers, Program Assistant at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum