- Courtesy of the Center for Cartoon Studies
- Health and Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System
In September, every U.S. Congress member will receive a unique gift: a comic book. At the risk of disappointing Batman fanboy Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), it doesn't chronicle the adventures of the Dark Knight or Wonder Woman or Superman. Rather, the short comic confronts something more intractable than the Riddler, Cheetah or Lex Luthor: the U.S. health care system.
Health and Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System is the latest in a series of graphic guides published by the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction. In 32 pages, the book breaks down the past, present and future of medical care in the U.S. and explains how and why our system works the way it does — or doesn't.
"Health care is the No. 1 issue for so many people," said CCS director and cofounder James Sturm in a phone interview. As part of his 2020-21 Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, Sturm conceived the project and assembled the team that produced it, including Harvard University students, health care scholars, and current CCS students Sam Nakahira and alum Kazimir Lee, who created the book's final artwork.
The U.S. health care system is "confusing. It's complex. It becomes cruel, the way it's set up," Sturm explained. "We're trying to find visual metaphors that speak to that."
Health and Wealth takes inspiration from children's books, "Schoolhouse Rock" videos and board games. One comic portrays health care as elements of Monopoly, Life and other games bandaged together in a single board.
The book will be available for free download in July. To finance a print run, Sturm and co. turned to crowdfunding, a resource some use to pay outrageous medical bills. They successfully funded a GoFundMe campaign called "GoFundMe Can't Fix Healthcare."
"It's great that GoFundMe exists," Sturm said, noting that the vast majority of campaigns fall short, "but it's not the answer."
Perhaps U.S. legislators will find solutions with the help of a comic from Vermont.
Read on for an excerpt from Health and Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System.