Comics for public health science communication?

Could Public Health research findings, public health messages or social aspects of health care be communicated through comics? Would it only be relevant if you want to target children?

If you lived, in Japan you would be very likely to answer no to that question. Manga, a Japanese form of comic, is an integrated part of the Japanese population’s every day life. In any convenience store, news papers will be side by side of Mangas and they are not ‘just’ comics. There is actually a Manga newspaper (direct link to Manga No Shimbun) and manga is used for many educational purposes too.

That not only Japan makes use of comics to communicate professional issues, including medicine came to my attention yesterday, when I on Twitter came across an upcoming conference on Comics and Medicine in Toronto in July 2012.

This interdisplicinary conference on Comics and Medicine is the third of its kind and aims to explore the intersection of sequential visual arts and medicine. The upcoming conference will look at perspectives which are often under-represented in graphic narratives, such as barriers to healthcare, the stigma of mental illness and disability, and the silent burden of caretaking. They are currently accepting proposals for scholarly papers and discussions: Comics & Medicine Call for Papers.

Very often science communication is considered as something that takes place only in peer-reviewed journals, international conferences and internal seminars, but the example of Comics and Medicine just illustrates the range of channels and formats for science communication is diverse! This I find exiting!

Al though I do not myself have experience with comics for science communication, I feel like highlighting a Japanese Manga that I myself have become quite hooked on. Oishinbo is a Japanese manga about Japanese food, traditions on how to prepare it, the philosophy behind it etc. It is extremely educational, interesting and fun. Have you got just the slightest interest in the Japanese cuisine, I can only recommend that you dig into the universe of Oishinbo!


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