If epilepsy is a dragon, multiple sclerosis is a…

Miers, John (2018) If epilepsy is a dragon, multiple sclerosis is a…. In: Drawing Yourself In and Out of It : The 2nd International Amsterdam Comics Conference; 15 - 17 Nov 2018, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (Unpublished)


Research is always personal. Our histories and orientations influence our selection of subjects and responses to results. Writing the final chapter of my PhD, an extended analysis of David B.’s graphic memoir Epileptic, and changed personal circumstances meant that graphic, metaphoric and narratological analysis became fused with experience of individual trauma. I selected this comic because of B.’s development of a complex set of visual metaphors, through which he tries to depict and come to terms with his brother’s epilepsy. The chapter’s purpose was to apply a model of the operation of visual metaphor in graphic narrative I had developed in its predecessors. But having recently been diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, the questions of how, and whether, artists can successfully represent the experience of disability or serious illness, and the extent to which patients’ metaphorical expressions reflect the aetiology of their conditions, took on a particularly acute salience. I did not refer to my illness in the thesis, but it provides the primary motivation, and narrative framing, for my current research. Using London College of Communication’s Archives and Special Collections Centre, I am exploring ways in which artists and students use visual and imagistic metaphors to communicate experiences of illness and disability, and documenting the process and results in comics form. This paper will focus on my work with the Les Coleman collection of comics and illustration, presenting initial results of metaphor analysis, and graphic responses to the work of Justin Green, Ivan Brunetti, and David B., among others.

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