Creative Work: Annaham in Print!

Some of our readers may be aware that our very own Annaham is, among many other things, a talented cartoonist who explores disability in her cartoons.

Line drawing of a woman in a bed, sitting up against the pillows as her eyes—popping out of her head—focus on her body parts, which have detached from their sockets and are floating around the room.

Writing about her experiences as an artist, Annaham says:

The fact that I consider myself a “disabled feminist cartoonist” may seem, to some, to be an almost hyperbolic adoption of the worst aspects of identity politics; the politics of identity, ability, and (mis)representation, however, are central to my work. In this fairly short comic, I want to put forth the idea that a condition such as fibromyalgia (which I have), and the theoretical perspective that it and similar conditions deserve, can be effectively represented via an explicitly visual form. Conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, lupus and certain types of arthritis are all “invisible” illnesses which can be disabling. As scholar Susan Wendell contends, however, those with invisible and disabling or potentially disabling conditions are subjected to constant scrutiny, doubt, and disbelief from those around them. There is no question that art is a powerful medium; my hope is that this project succeeds in both making the “invisible” illness experience visible via the form of comics, and in addressing the challenges facing a theory of invisible illness.

The zine ‘When Language Runs Dry’ recently published her piece ‘Invisibly Ill.’ Here’s a sample panel, and if you want more, you can pick up a copy all your very own!

A line drawing depicting a young woman from the shoulders up. She appears to be split down the middle of the image, with the left side showing her as "normal" and the right side showing her as covered in nails that are obviously causing her extreme discomfort. Her facial expression on the left is neutral; on the right, it is pained. Text above the image reads: "Elaine Scarry, in her seminal work <em>The Body in Pain</em>, notes that "To have pain is to have certainty; to hear about pain is to have doubt." Text below the image reads: "The nature of a condition such as fibromyalgia--where some who have it can 'inhabit' dual worlds, makes this disparity quite pronounced."

Here’s some more information about what’s in this edition of ‘When Language Runs Dry’:

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than six months. It is often mysterious and goes undiagnosed, but can stem from injury, illness, surgical complications, or can be an inherited condition. Because it is a condition that is invisible, pain often goes without treatment or validation. The chronic pain experience is not just about the physical sensations, but also has serious emotional and social implications.

Finding good information and meaningful dialog about chronic pain can be challenging. Many of the resources out there are very clinical, too general, or are written from outside the pain experience. There are few voices by folks with chronic pain about their struggles and how they keep living as full a life as possible. This zine attempts to begin to fill the empty space with a diversity of voices telling their stories. We hope that by publishing these essays people will feel a greater sense of permission to speak out. Further, we hope to create more community for those with chronic pain and their allies.

Hot off the presses, the third issue of this edited collection includes 4 new essays, a 15 page comic essay, contributor bios and reading/resource list. Themes include parenting with chronic pain, invisibility and chronic pain, and some ways we’ve found to survive and thrive in the face of ongoing illness.

(You can see more of Annaham’s work at her website.)

About s.e. smith

s.e. smith is a recalcitrant, grumpy person with disabilities who enjoys riling people up, talking about language, tearing apart poor science reporting, and chasing cats around the house with squeaky mice in hand. Ou personal website can be found at this ain't livin'.

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