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Comics about care

29 November 2021

Adrift by Jonathan Clode and Brick. One of the comics featured on the All Is Not Well blog.
Adrift by Jonathan Clode and Brick. One of the comics featured on the All Is Not Well blog.

It is an essential part of a functional, healthy, and ethical society but prior to the pandemic, care giving was one of the most overlooked professions.

A project which publishes comics related to care has begun its second phase and is now focusing on how homeless people were cared for during the pandemic.

All Is Not Well – Comics About Care is a research project which began in 2017, initiated by Dr Ryan Prout, Reader in Hispanic Studies and author and carer Jonathan Clode. The project is a space for experimental comic strips that explore experiences of care, from the perspective of the caregiver and the person who has been cared for.

Phase two of the project will commission new work about homelessness in Wales, by comics writers and artists, to capture the voices of critical care workers and the experiences of those they assist.

The project will collaborate with Cardiff homeless charity, Huggard to use the experiences of those who work at their centre, some of whom have gone through the system themselves, to inform new stories. This phase of the project will also explore how people who didn’t have a home were meant to stay at home while national lockdowns were enforced. What did it mean for them and how long will some of the measures that were precipitated by the lockdown last into post-pandemic life?

Talking of the second phase of All Is Not Well, Dr Prout said, “We’d like to help contribute to changing perceptions of what people who care and support the homeless do, and to highlight the challenges they face; to undo some of the stereotypes about homeless people and to understand the connection between a person’s current circumstances and past trauma.”

As Dr Prout explains, “Jonathan works in care and brings first-hand knowledge of the sector to the project. He has also written storylines and dialogue for comics. I come at this project from my research on comics in Spain where the graphic novel became mainstream in 2007. We both see comics as having the potential to deal with issues that we need to be talking about more. There is such a lack of recognition for care workers and this project focuses on the realities of day-to-day care work.”

In phase one of the project Prout and Clode worked with artists and writers on specially commissioned comic strips which were published on the All Is Not Well blog. This will continue in phase two however the project now includes support for publication of an anthology of all the strips.

Phase two of All Is Not Well has been made possible by generous support from Innovation for all, a programme which aims to drive a step-change in Cardiff University’s innovation and translational activity. It is backed by Research Wales Innovation Funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. Innovation for All invited projects that addressed the impact of Covid and looked ahead to a post-pandemic phase.

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