Parables of Care narrates the true stories of dementia care in comics form. Dr Ernesto Priego explains how comics, as a ‘mindful’ medium, helps carers to digest information on care for the elderly.
We have followed your progress for almost a decade now, starting with the Comic Grid (London Design Festival 2011). Was the comic format for Parables of Care your idea?
Thank you. Your early support was essential for us. Yes; it was my idea. I read the Care ‘N’ Share app as a treasure trove of human stories – and it occurred to me we could explore whether we could adapt some and how. I summoned Simon Grennan and Peter Wilkins, organised some workshops and set to work.
Tell us a bit more about Parables of Care.
Parables of Care is a project of the Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London, where I work, The University of Chester, UK, where Simon works, and Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada, where Peter works.
We produced an open access 16-page publication presenting in comics form true stories of creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers.
These were adapted into comics from a group of over 100 case studies originally available at http://carenshare.city.ac.uk.
Anyone can download the PDF of the comic freely and openly from City Research Online, City, University of London by clicking on the ‘download button’ at http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/18245/
Folk in the UK can request free hard copies of the comic by filling out a quick form at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/parablesofcare/get-a-printed-copy/.
Parables of Care stories are structured in a yonkoma format of four cells: introduction, action, crisis and resolution. That solves the problem of the type narrative to use. Who in the team gets to write or edit? Draw the comic? Do the inking or lettering?
All credit for the art goes to Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio. The story selection, scripts and the form itself where the result of the co-creation workshops I organised and hosted at City.
“Superhero comics are the result of the experience of those othered who had to develop new identities to adapt, resist discrimination and ultimately thrive.”
Spider-Man’s Peter Parker is a young carer who looks after his Aunt May. What really stood out for us at MCM Comic Con last week were the carers, and those under their charge. We saw a son in his mid-40s, in Star Trek costume, pushing his elderly mother in a wheelchair. We saw a father and his son with cognitive disability dressed up as super heroes.
What is it about comic book characters that empower these people, to the extent that they see themselves as a Jedi or Deadpool?
I am glad you noticed that and this is an important question. I think storytelling and imagination, in particular, has this power. It’s not unique to comics: the works of J.K. Rowling, or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Margaret Atwood empower too.
However, superhero comics are the result of the experience of those othered (Jewish immigrants in New York) who themselves had to change their last names and develop new identities to adapt, resist discrimination and ultimately thrive.
The customed or caped superhero appeals to both traditional conceptions of the carnival and to modern notions of identity as mask and performance. Cos-playing, role-playing, reading are empowering because they allow people to transcend limitations and transform them into power.
In the comic world, who is your super hero? In real life, who is your hero?
In the comic world I guess it’s Obelix: resisting oppression, caring, loyal friend, moved by beauty, enjoying travel, loving food and life, frustrated by not being allowed the magic potion!
In real life, my wife Lucy: a humanitarian & development superhero where I saw one.
About Dr Ernesto Priego
- Editor-in-Chief, The Comic Grid
- Q&A by City University
- Interview by John Freeman, Down the Tubes
- The Comic Grid at London Design Festival 2011
About Dr Simon Grennan
More on MCM Comic Con