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Concept: Comic strip


Like the sequence of words in written language, comic book page layouts direct images into a deliberate reading sequence. Conventional wisdom would expect that comic panels follow the order of text: left-to-right and down - a “Z-path” - though several layouts can violate this order, such as Gestalt groupings of panels that deny a Z-path of reading. To examine how layouts pressure readers to choose pathways deviating from the Z-path, we presented participants with comic pages empty of content, and asked them to number the panels in the order they would read them. Participants frequently used strategies departing from both the traditional Z-path and Gestalt groupings. These preferences reveal a system of constraints that organizes panels into hierarchic constituents, guiding readers through comic page layouts.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Language, Writing, Comic strip, Comics, Graphic novel, The Beano


The purpose of this study was to pilot test the Comics for Health program, a theory-based nutrition and physical activity intervention for children. Twelve after-school programs were randomized to either a theory-based (n = 37) or a knowledge-based (n = 34 children) version of the intervention. Pretests, posttests, and 3-month follow-up tests were administered to evaluate the programmatic effects on body mass index percentile, obesity-related behaviors, and constructs of social cognitive theory. Both interventions found significant, yet modest effects for fruit and vegetable consumption (P < .005), physical activities (P < .004), and water and sugar-free beverage consumption (P < .001) and self-efficacy for fruit and vegetable consumption (P < .015) and physical activities (P < .009).

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Body mass index, Educational psychology, Social cognitive theory, Comic strip, Comics, Graphic novel


To compare persons who report that they never wear a seat belt while driving or as a passenger with those who do in a nationally representative sample in the United States. Our guiding hypothesis is that failure to wear a seat belt is part of an antisocial behavior spectrum.

Concepts: Sample, United States, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Antisocial personality disorder, Nationalism, United States House of Representatives, Comic strip


As the interest in graphic medicine grows, health communicators have started engaging readers with compelling visual and textual accounts of health and illness, including via comic books. One context where comics have shown promise is cancer communication. This brief report presents an early example of graphic medicine developed by the American Cancer Society. “Ladies … Wouldn’t It Be Better to Know?” is a comic book produced in the 1960s to provide the public with lay information about the Pap test for cervical cancer prevention and detection. An analysis of a key narrative attribute, plot development, illustrates the central role that perceived barriers played in this midcentury public health message, a component that remains a consideration of cancer communication design today. This case study of an early graphic narrative identifies promising cancer message features that can be used to address and refute barriers to cervical cancer screening and connects contemporary research with historical efforts in public health communication.

Concepts: Cancer, American Cancer Society, Plot, Comic strip, Comics, Graphic novel, Comic book, The Beano


In its most basic form, empathy refers to the ability to understand another person’s feelings and emotions, representing an essential component of human social interaction. Owing to an increase in the use of mass media, which is used to distribute high levels of empathy-inducing content, media plays a key role in individual and social empathy induction. We investigated empathy induction in cartoons using eye movement, EEG and behavioral measures to explore whether empathy factors correlate with character drawing styles. Two different types of empathy-inducing cartoons that consisted of three stages and had the same story plot were used. One had an iconic style, while the other was realistic style. Fifty participants were divided into two groups corresponding to the individual cartoon drawing styles and were presented with only one type of drawing style. We found that there were no significant differences of empathy factors between iconic and realistic style. However, the Induced Empathy Score (IES) had a close relationship with subsequent attentional processing (total fixation length for gaze duration). Furthermore, iconic style suppressed the fronto-central area more than realistic style in the gamma power band. These results suggest that iconic cartoons have the advantage of abstraction during empathy induction, because the iconic cartoons induced the same level of empathy as realistic cartoons while using the same story plot (top-down process), even though lesser time and effort were required by the cartoon artist to draw them. This also means that the top-down process (story plot) is more important than the bottom-up process (drawing style) in empathy induction when viewing cartoons.

Concepts: Fiction, Behavior, Character, Narrative, Cartoon, Painting, Comic strip, Cartoonist


Comics have been an important locus of queer female identity, community, and politics for generations. Whether taking the form of newspaper strips, comic books, or graphic novels and memoirs, the medium has a long history of featuring female same-sex attraction, relationships, and identity. This special issue explores the past place, current presence, and possible future status of lesbianism in comics. It features essays about cartoonists such as Jennifer Camper, characters such as Wonder Woman, and titles such as Lumberjanes. This special issue also includes a roundtable that examines underrepresented identities in lesbian comics. These pieces address subjects ranging from the depiction of a Latina lesbian protagonist in AMERICA: The Life and Times of America Chavez and the debut of the first lead Black lesbian female superheroine in Cyberzone to the presentation of queer women in graphic novels from South Asia and the experience of re-reading Hothead Paisan in the age of Trump.

Concepts: LGBT, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Comic strip, Lesbian, Comics, Graphic novel, Superman


Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy and the leading cause of anaphylaxis and death due to food allergy. Despite previous guidelines created by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2003, peanut allergy has continued to significantly increase over the past decade. Therefore, further research has been done to help clinicians provide more evidence-based recommendations about the timing of introduction of peanuts. The LEAP study, published in February 2015, demonstrated the value of much earlier introduction of peanuts to nonallergic patients than previously suggested. These findings have altered current practice, and recommendations supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics now allow the introduction of peanuts as early as age 4 months to reduce the likelihood of developing peanut allergy.

Concepts: Allergy, Food allergy, Allergology, Introduction, Peanut, Comic strip, Peanuts


Comic books have been a part of popular culture through generations. Debates concerning their graphic depictions of violence have been ongoing for nearly as long. Our aim was to examine if the violence in “Donald Duck & Co.” (a weekly published Danish comic book), illustrated through the number of head injuries, increased in the period from 1959 to 2009. The comic book vintages from the years 1959 and 2009 were read, and the number of head injuries noted. The head injuries were characterized by severity, in part by a modified Glasgow Coma Scale and in part by a newly developed Comic Book Coma Scale. The number of head injuries were equal in the examined years, however, the number of head injuries per page decreased from 1/10 pages to 1/20 pages. Donald Duck sustained a better part of the injuries increasing from 17% in 1959 to 33% in 2009. The study indicates that we, with peace of mind, can read a comic book while the rest of the family takes care of the dishes at Christmas.

Concepts: Glasgow Coma Scale, Comic strip, Marvel Comics, Donald Duck, Carl Barks, Scrooge McDuck, Duckburg, Quack Pack


Epilepsy is of worldwide public health importance because it is common, often accompanied by physical and cognitive disabilities, and is widely stigmatized. The incidence of epilepsy in Ethiopia was reported to be 64/100,000 population and a prevalence of 520/100,000 population. A minority of subjects is treated, and religious and sociocultural beliefs influence the nature of treatment and care. One approach to support the development of positive attitudes toward individuals with disabilities is through the use of comics. Comics have been effective in creating awareness and educating about epilepsy.

Concepts: Health care, Epidemiology, Education, Educational psychology, School, Comic strip, Comics, Graphic novel


Punch was the foremost satirical publication of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, engaging thoughtfully and seriously with the world of science. This article examines three of Punch’s graphic satires concerning medical innovation. As Punch relied heavily on topical humour, many of its satires can trace their roots to occurrences reported in the popular press, which help to put the cartoons in context for an accurate reading of Punch’s motives. Punch’s method, to educate and engage its loyal readers in debates about the role of medicine and doctors whilst making them laugh, would seem to be unique.

Concepts: 20th century, The Colbert Report, Comic strip, Satire, Comedy, Caricature, Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, Punch