Reflecting with Dana Walrath on Comics, Medicine, and Memory

Dana Walrath

“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:

Thank you to all who attended this inspiring event!


Guest post by Amy Chalmers, Program Assistant at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

New Event! Dana Walrath’s Aliceheimer’s: Comics, Medicine, and Memory

Aliceheimers cover


Location: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s Will Eisner Seminar Room  – 1813 N High St
: 4:30pm

We are thrilled to welcome cartoonist, writer, and educator DANA WALRATH to campus on Friday, November 6th.

Dana Walrath is the author of the graphic memoir Aliceheimer’s, which chronicles her mother’s dementia and how it provided an unexpected community of help including pirates, space/time travel, and Walrath’s dead father, looming in the branches of the maple trees around her New England farm house.  This talk will focus on the power of graphic storytelling to heal and support individual caregivers, to support those with memory loss, and to rewrite the story of how we age globally.

DanaWalrathWalrath earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She has used stories and art in her teaching of medical students at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine.  She is currently working with the Center for Cartoon Studies on their Cartoonist Veteran Project.  Her most recent book is Like Water on Stone, an account of the Armenian genocide in blank verse, which was a finalist for the 2015 Vermont Book Award.

Following Dana’s talk will be a Q&A and book signing.

Co-sponsored by The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, Popular Culture Studies, and Humanities and Medicine: a Working Group at the Humanities Institute.

« Older posts