Review Update: Penn State University Press Graphic Medicine Series
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Matthew Noe, MLS 
Lead Collection & Knowledge Management Librarian 
Countway Library 
Harvard Medical School

This article is an update of a review published in the July 2020 issue of Doody’s Collection Development Monthly. You can find the original review here

Disclosure: The young imprint from Penn State University Press, Graphic Mundi, will come up in this update and I am a member of their Advisory Board. This role does not come with a financial stake in the imprint. 

Content 

The Penn State University Press Graphic Medicine Series is a collection of curated publications dedicated to the value of comics as a medium to communicate the experiences of health. The series is managed by Kendra Boileau, assistant director and editor-in-chief of PSU Press, alongside a collective of experts in the field serving as series editors. Previously, this was the co-founding editorial duo of Ian Williams and Susan Merrill Squier, but editorial duties recently transitioned to the trio of Susan Merrill Squier, Juliet McMullin, and Brian Callender. A number of titles in the series are jointly published with U.K.-based publisher Myriad Editions, including The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams (2019), recently positively reviewed in Doody’s Review Service by Kimberly Brown, MBA, PMP. 

Features/Functionality 

As is common for the field and genre of graphic medicine, titles in the series include works of memoir, history, fiction, journalism, and scholarship. While all the titles in the series are appropriate for course use, and many of them have been reported to be used as such, few titles in the series are written explicitly for educational purposes. While the comics in the series are still meant for a mixed-use general and academic audience, the series has undergone a transition since my original review, thanks to the launch of the separate, but related, Graphic Mundi imprint at Penn State University Press. Kendra Boileau is publisher at Graphic Mundi and this imprint publishes graphic novels for adults and young adults, with non-exclusive focus on memoir, sciences, and otherwise difficult topics.  

As you might imagine, this has led to a situation where the Graphic Medicine Series is freer to focus on scholarly works, with Graphic Mundi able to publish a wider range of comics, some scholarly, some less so. Three invaluable examples of new titles to come from the series in recent years include Looking at Trauma: A Toolkit for Clinicians edited by Abby Hershler, Lesley Hughes, Patricia Nguyen, and Shelley Wall; Graphic Public Health: A Comics Anthology and Road Map by Meredith Li-Vollmer; and Clinical Ethics: A Graphic Medicine Casebook by Kimberly R. Myers, Molly L. Osborne, and Charlotte A. Wu, and illustrations by Zoe Schein. While each of these includes comics within them, they are more educational and practically oriented than previously published works and fill a large gap in available titles to use as textbooks for the growing number of courses in graphic medicine. 

Business Model 

The Graphic Medicine Series remains available in print through most U.S.-based book vendors, including the commonly used academic library vendors GOBI (EBSCO) and OASIS (ProQuest). As noted in the previous review, many of the titles in the series remain unavailable electronically due to the way electronic rights surrounding comics, particularly the translated titles, are handled. However, efforts are being made to ensure that digital copies are available to libraries whenever possible going forward. For those interested in alternative purchasing pathways, titles in the Graphic Mundi imprint are distributed exclusively with Diamond, meaning they are orderable for any local comics shop. As always, titles in the Series remain at a good price point, particularly when compared to the usual costs of health sciences resources.  

Breakthrough 

Interest in the use of comics in healthcare settings continues to grow and a large number of new people came to the community throughout the past few years of COVID-19 pandemic life, as evidenced by the continued popularity of the Graphic Medicine Drawing Together events. The titles published by Penn State University Press continue to be staples of the genre and field, featuring in best of and recommended lists across the publishing landscape, and continue to be in demand by patrons. 

References 

Brown, K. (2019). Doody’s Expert Review, The Lady Doctor. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from http://www.doody.com/dej/PublicTitle.asp?ISBN=9780271083742 

Graphic Medicine. (n.d.) The Drawing Together Archive. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://www.graphicmedicine.org/drawingtogether/ 

Graphic Mundi. (n.d.) About. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://www.graphicmundi.org/about/ 

Penn State University Press. (n.d.) Graphic Medicine. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from https://www.psupress.org/books/series/book_SeriesGM.html  

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