As a child of the 70s and 80s, I’ve lived long enough to see my geeky obsessions burst out of the shadows into mainstream pop culture and profitability. Take comic books—once solely the currency of the unathletic and unpopular, the four-color adventures of Spider-Man, The Hulk, Superman, and Batman offered a much-needed escape from reality into the ultimate power fantasy. The idea of comics being cool or getting the multi-million dollar film treatment, though, was a suspension of disbelief too far.
But here we are throwing our money at the big screen adventures of Wonder Woman, Captain America, and the Guardians of the Freaking Galaxy–and people living with Lennox-Gastaut and other forms of epilepsy might benefit!
While mainstream popularity may be a novelty for comics, the truth is the medium has always been an all-American art form perfect for holding a mirror to society. Comics have reflected both our fears and anxieties and our dreams and aspirations… for example, our deep, innermost desire to punch Hitler in the face. They’ve also been a great way to educate, too. From Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust allegory “Maus” to Congressman John Lewis’s civil rights memoir “March,” the best educational comics make good use of the medium’s visual potential and ease of access to instruct without preaching or talking down to their audience—which make them a helpful tool for introducing complex subject matter such as epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut to younger readers.
Maybe that’s why the Child Neurology Foundation teamed up with Eisai Pharmaceuticals and the health education company Jumo to sponsor the “Medikidz Explain Epilepsy” comic book series.
Comics put out by companies or organizations tend to vary wildly in quality—especially if their primary purpose is marketing a product. The Medikidz series, though, isn’t about marketing: it’s about education. It’s also peer-reviewed and features content developed in cooperation with epilepsy specialists and patient advocates, meaning it’s both accurate and speaks to its target audience of kids with epilepsy.
So far, the series has covered topics as diverse as seizure assistance dogs, playing sports with epilepsy, and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
The latest release focuses on transitional care and walks teenagers through the process of moving from pediatric care to taking responsibility for their own care—a critical consideration for epilepsy patients experiencing the independence of going away to college or starting their first career. A free copy of “Understanding Transitional Care in Epilepsy” can be ordered from Eisai’s website, along with the other issues in the series. What the comic lacks in villain-punching action or epic thrills, it more than makes up for by making the best use of the medium to educate and inspire its readers. And that is its true superpower!