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Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee redefined graphic novels and helped create a lineup of superheroes that shaped American pop culture over the past half-century. So his death from cardiac arrest in November marks something of a turning point in cultural history.
His influence has been felt far and wide, including right here in our own Diabetes Community, with many D-themed comics and graphic novels created in his spirit over the years. Yep, we’ve covered a number of these here at the ‘Mine — from MediKidz to the Diabetes Hero Squad, and the recent SugarLand series tackling the serious insulin affordability and access crisis in the U.S. Going way back, there’s even the very cool Guy Rainsford who lived with diabetes back in the early days of insulin and created graphic art illustrations about Dr. Eliot Joslin at his now-famous clinic in Boston.
With Stan Lee and his Marvel wonders in mind, we’re putting a “Marvel-lous” spin on this year’s annual diabetes giveaway for the holiday gift-giving season. It’s a “fantastic four” of D-themed graphic novels, if you will, a batch of comics that surely have at least a sprinkling of Lee’s inspiration behind them. And just in time for the holidays, we are offering SEVEN PRIZE COPIES of these illustrated pieces in the giveaway below!
Allow us to introduce you to four standout diabetes graphic novels. Be sure to read all the way to the end, to put your name into the online hat for a chance to win one of these for yourself!
(Not So) Dire Beastie
Earlier this year, we shared the story of Kara and the (Not So) Dire Beastie, a series of cartoon/comic shorts about a fictional 10-year-old girl just diagnosed with T1D who is learning what it means to live with this condition. It’s all about her navigating her way through a fairy tale land where she befriends a creature named the “Dire Beastie” (which to her, is what “diabetes” sounds like). The “Beastie” character represents a cell in the body that needs a special key, which represents insulin, to unlock his mouth so that he can eat. Normally, he is a happy blue Beastie, roaming the kingdom eating “glueclose.” But he becomes “Dire” when the keys go missing. The happy ending to the story is that when Kara learns how to manage her diabetes, she realizes the Beastie is not so dire after all.
This book was developed by the Florida-based non-profit animation studio Drawn from Valor, and they debuted Kara and the Dire Beastie in mid-July at the Friends For Life annual conference in Orlando. They tell us their hope with this project is that children following this story will also begin to feel the same way — that diabetes is a manageable disease and not so “dire.”
Along with their animation, they’ve created a pretty awesome 30-page comic book featuring these same characters and educational storylines on type 1 diabetes. We’re now excited to offer five (!) copies of this cool comic book to lucky winners.
World Famous Heroes Magazine (featuring Dr. Banting!)
If there were a Stan Lee style superhero for our Diabetes Community, many would say it would be Dr. Frederick G. Banting, who co-discovered insulin as a life-saving treatment back in the early 1920s. You might say Banting is to Insulin as Lee is to Modern Comics. That’s why it’s so cool that through the years since injectable insulin was first developed, Banting’s been featured in three different comics. And on a most recent visit to the historic Banting House in London, Ontario, I personally bought a copy of one of these comics from the charitable museum and am excited to feature it for today’s ‘Mine giveaway!
The eight-page, full-color comic was printed in the second issue of World Famous Heroes Magazine, published by the Comic Corporation of America (aka Centaur) in Springfield, MA, in 1941 — just 10 months after Dr. Banting’s death. The illustrator was actually Bob Lubbers, a legend in the comic industry in his own right, as he went on to draw for several comic publishing companies including Fiction House, Marvel and DC.
This brief comic offers a graphic illustration of the public record of Banting’s life — from his post-World War I time to working on insulin (with Marjorie the Dog), and eventually his other research before his death. This Globe and Mail article shares more about the other comics Dr. Banting was featured in, but we’re excited to giveaway a copy of this most rare historical version.
Diabetes and Me
Years ago, we talked with a New York husband-and-wife pair who created their own D-themed hardcover graphic novel aimed at teaching kids and adults about diabetes self-care in a Cathy-style (for those who remember that weekly strip). Fellow type 1 Kim Chaloner and her husband Nick Bertozzi are behind Diabetes and Me: An Essential Guide for Kids and Parents, a 176-page comic book … err, graphic novel, complete with a brief into by Kim and a full glossary of D-terms. Some well-known authorities in the D-Community have vouched for the book — Dr. Bill Polonsky, CDE and T1 D-peep Gary Scheiner, and Divabetic founder Max Szadek among them.
Diagnosed as a teenager at age 16 back in 1984, Kim is a middle school science teacher in Manhattan and also serves as dean of her private school there, so diabetes and education go hand-in-hand for her! Her husband’s name may sound familiar, as Nick’s a pretty well-known cartoonist whose work has appeared in many venues, and he also teaches in Manhattan.
The 203-page graphic novel is packed full of D-101, broken down into six chapters that talk disease basics, healthcare team, blood sugar nuances, meal and exercise aspects, and the critical support aspects of living with diabetes.
Kim told us previously during an interview: “When friends suggested that my husband and I collaborate on a graphic novel for kids about diabetes, I was thrilled about using his artwork to tell stories that might empower kids. Anything that can help a kid move from a frightening diagnosis to a place of feeling empowered and informed, seemed like it was ‘worth a shot!’ It was fun to work on this project, and to create characters kids can relate to. Retelling and shaping the story of my experiences as a diabetic helped me think about how children today need ways to process their experiences, and share their struggles and triumphs.”
Not surprisingly, Diabetes and Me is chock full of elementary D-basics, and we loved the clever drawings used as a vehicle for this education — for example the illustration of Kim as the D-Coach for the other characters in the book, and Nick’s drawing of the word “diabetes” with eyeballs above each letter, that follows the characters around. We’re always being stalked by our diabetes, indeed! There are also some great illustrations of D-tech and future ideas, like the concept of blood sugar-tracking wrist watches that we cover closely. And of course, the superhero healthcare team of endo and CDE, among others with powers and tools to help manage diabetes. Fun stuff!
The Northern Ireland publisher Revolve Comics has a continuing series of diabetes-focused comics, with the most recent second edition just released for Diabetes Awareness Month in November 2018.
The first 24-page issue, “Type 1 Origins” was released in October 2016 with a superhero theme that tackles the basics of type 1 diabetes – personifying different aspects of D-life into fun characters. The new 2nd issue “Attack of the Ketones” uses a film noir style genre to focus on the dangers of high blood sugar, Ketones and DKA, as well as diabetes tech that can help keep BGs in check.
We asked Revolve Comics about how this D-theme came to be, and “Master and Commander” Danny McLaughlin shares that while no one on their team has a direct connection to diabetes, a local Irish doctor friend connected them with endo-advocate Dr. Partha Kar in the UK about this. Kar pitched them on the idea of creating a T1D narrative to spread awareness in a fun and engaging way, we’re told.
“Once we began creating and promoting that the project was going on, it was extraordinary how many people noted that they were diabetic, or their loved ones had diabetes,” McLaughlin tells us.
“Comics have a culture that was becoming more popular, but it also was very much about independent reading and therefore independent learning. If we could engage young people our comics would let them educate themselves with a bit more of an educational narrative with a hopeful ending,” he added.
Their first issue was paid for by a group of doctors themselves out of their own pockets. Following the success of more than 10,000 downloads, the second issue got the green light and secured funding from NHS England. The creators studied download patterns including location and age, and analyzed reader feedback on the first edition to shape what the second issue would focus on – ketones and wearable diabetes tech.
Will there be more Revel D-comics? While nothing’s final, we’re told that issue #3 will likely use yet another genre to delve into other T1D management issues, with returning characters and new ones being introduced.
The existing issues are both on the Revolve Comics website, where they can be downloaded for FREE. The creators also point out they’ve been working with UK-area clinics and T1D groups to offer versions that can be printed out and shared with patients.
Since these two comic books are available at NO COST, there’s no need to include them in our giveaway, but we’re very happy to spread the word.
And now, here’s your chance to get your hands on copies of the other three mentioned graphic novels above…
Interested in winning one of these comics / graphic novels this holiday season? We will be selecting SEVEN (7) lucky winners to receive a free copy — (five of the Dire Beastie comics, and one each of the Banting book and Diabetes and Me novels). Here’s how to enter:
Send us a social media comment including the codeword “DM HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY“or email us directly using that subject header to email@example.com.
*PLEASE INDICATE YOUR BOOK PREFERENCE*
You have until Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, at 9pm PST to enter.
The winners will be chosen using Random.org, and announced via Facebook and Twitter on Monday, Dec. 10, so make sure you’re following us. Please be sure to keep tabs on your Facebook messages or emails too, as that’s our only way to contact winners. Good luck, Friends!
This contest is now closed. Per Random.org, the following commenters were chosen as giveaway winners: Ben Gubar, Sylvia Britt, Breeayn Ardianto, Judy Ranan, Verna Holcomb, Deirdre Rogers, and the Krivel Family.