Graphic Medicine Residency at Saint Anselm puts Manchester on the map

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Artists playtested the game July 24 with community guests and college staff. Photo/Dr. Loretta Brady

MANCHESTER, NH —Comics are increasingly used to promote health education for patients, providers and public health. The field of Graphic Medicine has expanded over the past decade to include the use of graphic novels and even games. Since Thursday, July 20, two artists have spent their time in a Graphic Medicine residency, collaborating with the Community Resilience & Social Equity Lab at Saint Anselm College, directed by Dr. Loretta Brady.

“Since the pandemic our lab has collaborated with comic artist Dani Coca to create comics to support first responder family resilience. This past year Saint Anselm College student and Wethersfield, CT, resident Gianna Cormier (‘24) has worked with students at Southern New Hampshire University to convert one comic, Rounds, into a video game,” Brady said.

This Graphic Medicine Residency afforded the opportunity to extend the original comic even further into a tabletop visual puzzle game. Over the weekend Ottawa medical illustrator Virgina Fulford and New York communications professional Julianna Robidoux attended workshops with illustrator Dani Coca and Saint Anselm College faculty Christian Gregory. They also attended a series of community meetings held to envision a safer center city neighborhood. Over Sunday into Monday the pair created a game prototype and collected two sets of community play tests to further refine the prototype. They present their final project Tuesday at the college’s Goulet Science Center Reading Room at 9:30 a.m.

The artists in residence during a work session around the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. Photo/Dr. Loretta Brady.

The artists worked collaboratively to develop the dramaturgy and art for the map-based game that tells the story of a Latina emergency room physician, her colleagues and the patients she treats. It also highlights a variety of public health issues including gun violence, teen pregnancy and chronic health conditions that are impacted by neighborhood conditions.

 “I’m really intrigued by the skill and craft that it takes to create a meaningful and fun game,” Fulford said. “This Residency has also really reinvigorated my work; learning about a specific community and then translating that into a set of illustrations and game components was a true creative challenge. Learning with other graphic novelists and illustrators has also given me a lot of creative inspiration and confidence in my work.”

Robidoux echoed Fulford’s sentiments, saying, “The residency has deepened my ideas of what comics can do and how games can be used to both promote health but also to engage people to better understand the connection between place and wellbeing.”

The goal of the program, said Brady, was to support the expansion of Graphic Medicine preparation.

“Stories are powerful ways to promote health and create change. I’m very impressed with what the artists were able to accomplish with such limited time. They really created some innovative ways to depict a busy community and the factors impacting its health.”

To fund the residency Dr. Brady is seeking grant support to extend this opportunity in future years.

Those wishing to engage the lab for services or to collaborate on resilience resources can reach Brady at Saint Anselm College.

Editor’s: Workshop participant Julianna Robidoux is the daughter of Ink Link publisher Carol Robidoux.

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