A new edition of a guidebook to wellbeing for medical students called Keeping Your Grass Greener, was recently published by the Australian Medical Students Association, and features several pages of my comics. The Keeping Your Grass Greener guidebook addresses a wide range of issues medical students and junior doctors face relating to physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. This is crucial, because, as recently discussed in the Medical Journal of Australia, medical students often face burnout, depression and other mental health problems, but rarely talk about the
When I began work on the Comic Book Handbook for medical interns at Mackay Base Hospital, part of my research was reviewing the existing resources for junior doctors, and the previous version of Keeping Your Grass Greener from 2011 was one of the highlights. It featured a lot of short essays by doctors and other experts which offered advice on all sorts of topics related to wellbeing. With the Comic Book Handbook, I tried to use the visual affordances of comics to take a different approach, which was to present information to readers in a way that was less like an essay, and more like a puzzle or a map, something that they would feel invited to explore, play around with and put together in their own way.
I actually spent a lot of time looking at the 2011 edition of Keeping Your Grass Greener, so it
was an odd feeling to be asked to contribute to the new 2014 edition! Ultimately I was thrilled though, and I think the comics they chosen to reprint from the Mackay handbook really fit the theme and mission of the comic. It’s fantastic to see these comics going out to a wider audience, and hopefully some medical students will find them helpful, as well as a breath of fresh air in a book full of great, but very text-heavy, information.
A PDF of the 2014 version of Keeping Your Grass Greener can be found on the AMSA website, and the Comic Book Handbook for interns that my comics originally appeared in can be found on this very website.