Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cancer in Comics

Graphic novels—also called “comics” are becoming more popular with readers of all ages. Not at all cartoon, they can be serious, funny, educational and inspiring. The format of comics adds new dimension to a story by combing body, face, dialog and set, and by using shape and graphic design to maximum effect.

There are two graphic novels that I love:

Marisa Acocella’s “Cancer Vixen” came out two years ago and tells the story of Marisa’s breast cancer diagnosis and relationship with her new fiancé as they go through a fashionable Manhattan breast cancer story. If there is a girly-girl breast cancer story this is it.

This week I read “Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person” by Miriam Engelberg. I am highly recommending this book. It was published in 2006 and I regret not having this on the CancerLand Reading list before this.

Engelberg is a cartoonist living in San Francisco and her book is a memoir created by a series of comics that take us through her cancer journey—first diagnosis, treatments, family, workplace, second diagnosis, more treatments and best of all her internal reactions. Now, this may seem so crazy but this is a really funny and inspiring book for anyone to read. At the center of the story is the way many of us react to difficult things. For Engelberg it’s cancer, for you maybe it’s divorce, aging, trouble with kids etc.

Even crazier, this book is so funny while being serious, that I think—call me crazy—this could be a holiday gift for someone with cancer. Anyone in CancerLand—caregivers too, will say “yep, yep, yep”, as they follow Engelberg’s funny drawings.

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