Forum “Drawing Illness: Graphic Memoir and the Art of Getting Better”

2017 04 20


“In recent decades the graphic memoir has emerged as one of the most successful genres of alternative comics. These works address real experiences ranging from war and persecution to migration and discrimination. Graphic illness writing, as a major sub-genre, tells of personal encounters with physical and mental illness. The comics form is particularly well-suited to express highly emotional experiences of personal crisis and trauma. The abstraction of the cartoon drawing style, as well as, the blanks in between panels for the readers to fill, enable artists to visualize experiences that elude other media.

In her recent graphic memoir Lighter than my Shadow (2013) British author Katie Green depicts her adolescent experience of eating disorders and abuse. But the self-described “trip into the black heart of a taboo illness“ is also a story of recovery, coming of age, and self-expression through art. The drawing process itself becomes a way to work through her experience, give them a shape, and, finally, of getting better. This workshop will seek to explore how lines and scribbles can express complex emotional trauma and comic panels frame, contain, and explain where words fall short.”


  • Katie Green, “Drawing Shadows”
  • Lukas Etter, “Lines, Curls, Scribbles: Individual Drawing and Individual Style”
  • Panel diskussion with Katie Green (Author of Lighter than my Shadow), Lukas Etter (University of Siegen), Christina Maria Koch (University of Marburg) and Johannes C. P. Schmid (University of Hamburg); moderator: Astrid Böger (Director Arbeitsstelle für Graphische Literatur, University of Hamburg)



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