Friday, October 13, 2017


Who is going to want an introduction to embroidery that uses historical medical imagery for its patterns? Us! And here it is!

Embroidery Lab! is a component of my “Embroidering Medicine” workshop at the New York Academy ofMedicine Library. In this book are the basics of hands-on embroidery skills and stitches. The patterns in this book range from very simple to moderately labor intensive. The images come from the Academy’s Historical Collection. These pictures represent the evolution of the pursuit of biological knowledge. Yes, even a basilisk is a part of that evolution!

As an experiment, I had some embroidery patterns printed up on fabric. Here's one of the gravid uterus all stitched up.

You can find this little tome at comics stores like Forbidden Planet in NYC, and Chicago Comics. Birdcage Bottom Books will be selling it soon. You can also find it at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) October 21-22, 2017. Find me at table B81.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017



How do I process research as I work on a large project? By making small snippets to help me process narrative priorities, explore media, and transform vast amounts of data into digestible pieces. One of these pieces has been transformed into my mini comic, Stitchin' Time!

Was Galen really bossy? Maybe not, but historians 
consider him a bit of a "showman." 
(Buy the book if you want this citation! - I am shameless!)

Stitchin' Time! is a ridiculous historical fiction based on factual medical history. Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BCE – c. 50 CE) was a Roman writer of De Medicina, an important medical text.  Aelius (or Claudius) Galenus (129  – c. 200 CE) was a famous surgeon and one of the most influential writers in the history of medicine. In this minicomic, for the first time ever, Celsus and Galen team up to stitch a disemboweled gladiator back together! Could these men have ever met? Heck no! Would this type of surgery have taken place in the 2nd century? Heck yes!

Yes, Celsus wrote about a double-handed suture! 
Who needs robotic surgery when you can get so fancy with a needle?

Yeah, it's a pretty silly story and I'm giving you links in this post to Wikipedia, but the historical research is sound! This is the first comic resulting directly from my residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library. There are notes about each panel and a citations list at the back. You don't have to read them if you don't want to, but they may help you get a joke or two.

A surgery panel inspired by a 17th century anatomical 
illustration from the Academy Library Historical Collection.
The mini will be debuting at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, September 15-16.

After SPX you will be able to purchase this tome (and more!) at Birdcage Bottom Books.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


The San Diego Comic Con had a lot to offer: comics, movies, games, more comics, cosplay, panels, and more! But now that I'm home, the visual memories I have are of the amazing amount of breast art there. OMG the breasts!


Saturday, July 29, 2017



Interesting reading from my own collection.

I am excited to announce that at the end of my artist's residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library I will be offering the Embroidering Medicine workshop! This four week course is open to participants with all levels of needle working skills.

Embroidery adapted from an anatomical image from
Hieronymus Brunschwig's Liber de arte distillandi de compositis.

Using the Library’s historical collections we will focus on the areas of the collection invoking the ideals of femininity, domesticity, and women's health, as well as the medical practice of needlework (stitching of the body).
One of the texts we will use.
Using the collections we will:

  • Explore some historical concepts of femininity and domesticity
  • Examine images of female anatomy and fetal development 
  • Each select an image from a natural history, botanical, or anatomical text to use as an embroidery template
  • Examine diagrams and descriptions of how to perform basic suture techniques

An illustration from the Bernard book, above.
We will also:

  • Transfer an image onto fabric for embroidering
  • Learn and practice basic embroidery stitches
  • Learn and practice historical suture stitches, on fabric
  • Discuss relationships between medicine, needlework, and gender.
  • Discuss the differences between sewing the body, sewing clothing, and decorative stitching.
  • Have some fun (yes, fun!)

The natural history books have some adorable animals to embroider, too!

Why all the "discussion"? Embroidery takes time. A lot of time. We could sit in stony silence, but why not have some interesting conversations facilitated by a couple short presentations? 

The workshop will be held-
Thursdays, September 14 - October 5, 2017
6:30-8:30 PM
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029
$290 General Public | $250 Friends, Fellows, Members, Seniors, Students with ID
Supplies will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own.
Click HERE to be directed to the Academy workshop description and link to register.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


BEST SUMMER, EVER! (Next to the time I went to Paris for my birthday.)

Le Catgut! Guess what it's about!
(Catgut is made from sheep intestine, BTW.)

You know why this is such a great summer? Because I am spending it reading centuries-old books on the topics of sutures, ligatures, and the materials they were made from. And then I use what I've learned as inspiration for embroidery, drawing, comics, and writing. 

A few artists have asked me how I became A.I.R. at the Academy Library's Historical Collection. The joking answer is that I haunted the library so much that it was easier to make me official than to charge me with loitering. But this statement is also partially true (not the the not the charging me with a crime part). The Academy is this incredible vault of treasure and I have been mining it for years. The best part is that anyone can mine it. Before becoming A.I.R. I got to know the Collection and the staff at the Academy through research and by attending (and presenting at) some of the great programming there.

My first presentation was at the Academy's Vesalius 500 celebration doing what I do best, blathering on about anatomy. I also drew on a live model using the 16th century anatomist Vesalius' illustration as reference material.

For more about drawing on the body see this post.

Shortly after that I used the collection to assist in the adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher. The story takes place in 1830's Edinburgh around the time that the anatomist, Knox had hired the infamous Burke and Hare. The incredible (librarian) Arlene Shaner found books and articles from Edinburgh published at the time; dissection textbooks written and illustrated by two Edinburgh brother (John and Charles Bell) from the late 17- and early 1800's; and visual reference for anatomy theaters and labs. My version of the story spends a little more time at dissecting than the original. It will be published in the Seven Stories Press' Graphic Canon:Crime series. I don't know whether it is in volume one (coming this fall) or volume two (to follow).

A page from my EC Horror Comic-inspired version of 
R.L. Stevenson's The Body Snatcher.

I just finished teaching my second Visualizing and Drawing Anatomy workshops using the Library's collections and live models. You can read more about the workshops here, and here.

I enjoy exploring medical history and I enjoy researching needlework so why not do both? To that end I'm studying the history of sutures and ligatures, which is sewing, after all. Galen's* instruction on stitching up the body was my earliest area of focus. Then I went on to read the "Major Surgery" of the French medieval surgeon Guy de Chauliac*, published in 1363. From there I am staying in France to read the works of Ambrose Paré*.  After him I will continue on to Edinburgh and John Bell*, and then... we shall see!

What I see at my desk. 
I am using illustrations from the collection to experiment with 
different methods of depicting these images on various fabrics.

For each surgeon I'm reading biographical information, background on the general state of medicine in that time, and works by that surgeon (or their translations). I'm also researching modes of production of the materials for making stitches such as flax, silk, catgut, etc. Additionally, I'm doing some reading regarding gender roles in textile production and gender roles in medicine over the centuries. To my surprise there are even books that discuss textile production during different eras! I'm also pouring over visual reference from the Library's collection as well as sources from the nefarious internet when I've come to a research impasse or just need a quick fix. 

Ultimately all this data and inspiration will coalesce into a graphic narrative, much of which I hope to render in (you guessed it!) needlework.

*Yes, I'm giving you their Wikipedia links. For more interesting information about these people, visit the Academy Library!

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Research doesn't have to be rigorous to bring about interesting results. Sometimes I like to do what I call "passive research" and read interesting articles or browse websites or go through historical anatomical illustrations when I'm taking a break from something grueling (like grading exams). One of my favorite sites is a National Library of Medicine site called Historical Anatomies On The Web and one of my favorite collections of illustrations is by two anatomists named Spiegel and Casseri. Casseri's illustrations show cadavers in downright flirtatious poses as they reveal their parts is burlesque-ish fashion.

One of my favorite poses. 
This subject is making a real show of his serratus anterior muscle.

The way these bodies are set in an environment, interacting with their world, and (in this case) acknowledging the viewer. Inspired me to make some "anatomy" comics in the same theme.

Pictorial Anatomy of the Cute does with adorable kittens what Casseri did with human beings, but kittens are cuter. To make this mini comic I had to study cat anatomy and comparative anatomy, too.

 Pictures in the mini comic are grayscale, but the colors are cuter.

This picture from "The World Is Not Enough" is a reference to another historical anatomical illustration done by the anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus and his artist Jan Wandelaar. "The Anatomy Of 007" takes the anatomized body interacting with its environment to a whole new level. It also meant getting out a lot of visual anatomical reference, which is also research.

I see an uncanny resemblance between Pierce Brosnan's pose, above, 
and the lateral view of Albinus and Wandelaar's cadaver, below.

One day while browsing Hecktoen International I came upon an article about Marin Marais, an 18th century composer who had undergone lithotomy (bladder stone) surgery and published a musical piece as a descriptive response to his experience. I started to imagine Marais listening to his surgeon mindlessly whistling a tune that would later become his composition. This of course inspired a mini comic about Marais, which in turn inspired research into: the history of surgery and lithotomy specifically; the type of equipment that was used; the position and table used: the French nursery song "Frère Jacques"; the traveling lithotomist, Frère Jacques (NOT the nursery song character as some articles assert); and the life and work of Marin Marais. I even found recordings of the music. I had a great time researching this (in a squeamish, thankful-for-Tylenol-and-Clorox-bleach kind of way.

This page introduces my history of Marais surgery.

Other inspiration has been rabies (the disease), the wandering uterus theorem, and many gag cartoons. The things we do for fun!

Friday, May 12, 2017



I have 2 new mini comics debuting at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)! I will be on the second floor at table Q18. Come on by May 13-14!


This little green gem of a comic blends fanciful and melodramatic passages about lovers' triangles with the graphics of various anatomical triangles of the neck. You can read the whole thing here, but if you'd like to own this adorable quarter page micro-tome click here. If you're going to be in Toronto for TCAF you can also pick it up there at my table!


Looking for a chuckle about medical history? Antisepsis? Bioethics? If you're not I suggest you stop reading. This selection of gag cartoons and graphic rhymes uses everything from mutated lung cells to the dancing movie star Anne Miller to the theory of spontaneous generation, just to make a joke. Don't worry! If you don't get the gag, I have included a short "humor analysis" section to get you on board. Find it at TCAF or click here to buy it online.