Sketches Outside the Margins: Scenes from a Free Healthcare Clinic
In this week’s Illustrated PEN, a collective of comics journalists share portraits from a free healthcare clinic in Washington state, selected by series editor Meg Lemke. Meredith Li-Vollmer is a lead artist and editor of the ongoing documentary project, and she writes:
“Over four days in September, more than 3,500 people received free medical, dental, and vision care at the Seattle/King County Clinic. They waited in line for long hours, even overnight, for the range of services offered at this volunteer-run healthcare event held at Seattle’s KeyArena.
As artists who work in a storytelling medium, we wanted to find out what circumstances brought people to the Clinic. We roamed the Clinic floors to learn who these patients were and why so many were willing to wait such an extraordinarily long time for this care. We hope these patient stories will stimulate conversations about the struggles people face with healthcare every day and the need for solutions so that everyone can access critical health services.”
“Rosa’s Family” by E.T. Russian
“Irina” by Amy Camber
“Pressure” by Meredith Li-Vollmer
“Time for Myself (Mary)” by Rachel Scheer
“Aging Out” by Kelly Froh
“Mike Archer” by Ellen Forney
“Felipe” by Tatiana Gill
“Ashley” by David Lasky
“Puppy Love” by Roberta Gregory
“Dave” by Tatiana Gill
“Lolinda” by Amy Camber
“Molly” by Tatiana Gill
“Faith” by Ellen Forney
Thanks to the Seattle Center, the Seattle Center Foundation, and Public Health—Seattle & King County for support of this comics journalism project, and to all the patients and volunteers who shared their stories with us.
More on the Seattle/King County Clinic at seattlecenter.org/skcclinic
Amy Camber is an artist and teacher. She writes about everything from feminism and parenting to periodontal disease and professional sports. Her comics have appeared in The Huffington Post, Mutha Magazine, The Establishment, The Seattle Weekly, Bust, and Grab Back Comics, among others. See her work at www.amycambercomics.com.
Ellen Forney is the author of best-selling graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, and its self-care companion book, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life. Ellen curated the traveling exhibition, “Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived & Well-Drawn!” for the National Library of Medicine, and teaches comics at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. www.ellenforney.com
Kelly Froh is a comic artist, art instructor, and co-founder and executive director of Short Run Comix & Arts Festival in Seattle. Her work can be found at cargocollective.com/kefroh and previously in The Seattle Weekly, The Seattle Review of Books, Moss, The Women’s Review of Books, and Popula.
Tatiana Gill is a Seattle based cartoonist who uses her art to show strength and vulnerability, often on themes of mental health and diversity. Gill has created dozens of self-published comic books and contributes to publications across the world. tatianagill.com.
Roberta Gregory has been creating (and publishing) her unique comics since the 1970s. She is best known for her character “Bitchy Bitch.” Read more about her at robertagregory.com
David Lasky coauthored the graphic novel The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, which won the comics industry’s Eisner Award, and is currently drawing a graphic novel which will focus on Seattle’s historic Georgetown Steam Plant. Among his best known work is the comic book No Ordinary Flu, made in collaboration with Public Health—Seattle & King County.
Meredith Li-Vollmer communicates about health issues for Public Health—Seattle & King County. Her experience staffing the Seattle/King County Clinic inspired her to organize this project. Her comics projects have been published in MUTHA, The Stranger, Illustrated PEN, and the American Journal of Public Health.
E.T. Russian is a multi-sensory artist, author, filmmaker, and healthcare provider from Seattle. Russian is the author of The Ring of Fire Anthology (2014) and has published work in The Stranger, The Seattle Weekly, Gay Genius (2011), and The Collective Tarot (2008). Russian is a member of cartooning collective THE HAND, an Advisory Board Member for Seattle’s Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, a featured artist with Sins Invalid and dance company Light Motion, and Co-Director of the movie Third Antenna (2001). etrussian.com
Rachel Scheer is a comic artist living in Seattle, Washington. Rachel’s mostly autobiographical comics have been published by The Stranger, The Seattle Weekly, Narratively, Lilith Magazine, and Fantagraphics. When she isn’t making comics, Rachel works as a second grade teacher. More at: rachelcomics.com