A comic strip of a patient entering, being treated, and then leaving a hospital

Special thanks to Noel Tuazon for this original illustration


When the Graphic Medicine Review (GMR) first launched amidst the global pandemic of 2020, I envisioned it as a home for all the wonderful scholarship that was not, at that moment, able to be presented in person at conferences, schools, and events. I knew that graphic medicine, as a field, was approaching a critical mass with its discourse: numerous journals, sites, and magazines were all publishing content related to comics and healthcare, so much so that it looked like all this work would soon need some sort of centralized space. There was already the main Graphic Medicine website, the Annals of Graphic Medicine , and Penn State Press’s publishing imprint doing remarkable stuff, for sure… but the pace seemed to be accelerating. There appeared plenty to go around.

I don’t think I was wrong. Time will tell, of course, but I see GMR as the first in what will become the further flourishing of comics and health, wellness, and medicine. The fact that its first years – for which I am immensely grateful to the MCPHS University Library for sponsoring – were somewhat hesitant and uncertain speaks more to the idea that all of us were slowly, not hastily, finding our way through life with the novel coronavirus, lying in wait for the shape of things to come. People were keeping their proverbial powder dry, which only underscores, for me, the potential power of this material. But we did, as people had to remain indoors, have to shut our doors as well.

Now that we have been so lovingly given a second life by the Lamar Soutter Library at the UMass Chan Medical School and the addition of the talented Mary Piorun as GMR co-editor, our aims and goals remain the same, if given even sharper focus. GMR applauds and encourages the work being done all across the field, and we claim no exclusive right or ownership of graphic medicine. Instead, this journal should best be viewed as part of a wider conversation – one taking place both globally and individually – about what graphic medicine does, what it can do, how it functions, for whom it operates, and what we expect of it. I would most like for this journal to be regarded as an experimental area, one where we help present new ideas, approaches, reactions, objections, and elevations of our remarkable field. It should still have academic rigor, of course, but it should not intimidate or oppress. This is a place for thought.

I hope the new volumes of GMR will mark the beginning of graphic medicine’s next stage. Additionally, I welcome all voices, both new and established, to come and share their views here. The journal does not require contributors to have any specific degree, any particular home institution, nor any specific dogma. The worst thing we could be, frankly, is an arbiter of ‘proper’ scholarship or some kind of gatekeeper. Just as others received us warmly and kindly, I intend for the Graphic Medicine Review to continue in that sentiment and that legacy.

The gates are open.