HOSPI-TALES celebrates health and imagination in a children’s hospital

HOSPI-TALES celebrates health and imagination in a children’s hospital


hospitalesHospi-Tales: An Alder Hey Year of Stories
Created by Comics Youth CIC & Alder Hey Children’s HospitalIn collaboration with Graphic Medicine Project
Edited by Rebecca Horner, Anna Macdonald?, and Rae Malenoir
Publisher: Marginal Publishing House

It’s almost universally accepted that comics have the capacity to transform both readers and creators, more so than other mediums. While we can go into many reasons for this belief, I’d rather focus on the main reason I believe this statement is true: anyone can create comics. It’s a pick-up-and-play type of creation that invites experimentation and supports imagination at every turn. Quite simply, they’re for everyone.

The comics anthology Hospi-Tales: An Alder Hey Year of StoriesOne of the most compelling examples of this is a graphic medicine initiative that was born out of a year-long partnership between the Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool and the Comics Youth CIC Create short comics for pediatric patients with the help of the creative community

Alder Hey has promoted arts within its organization since 2006, primarily through its Cultural Champions initiative. Comics Youth, on the other hand, has done its part since 2015 with an intention to empower youths in Liverpool City through comics creation.

Hospi-TalesA group of illustrators is enlisted, which consists of Maxine Lee-Mackie, Anna Macdonald, Rebecca Horner, Adam Goodison, Kym Nichols, Ashlin Larkin?, and Lo TierneyThe artist met with pediatric patients to create one-on-one sessions. Comics Youth illustrators could use the help of children to create characters and storyboarding.


The book is divided into four seasons and includes stories that cover medical procedures, anxiety, fears, injuries that resulted in hospitalizations, and new daily routines to help with self-care. The seasonal approach is used in some stories to reflect what it’s like to be hospitalized at a certain time of the year and how it plays against what kids should be doing during those months. For example, Fall stories feature ghosts and trick-or-treaters, while Spring stories focus on bright colors that flood the hospital rooms from outside. It’s as if the hospital is an ever-changing ecosystem that beckons to be explored.

Hospi-TalesIt is, at its core, an open invitation to the worlds of health and education. It is designed to dispel myths and make medicine less scary. Both patients and illustrators are part of the book’s authors, making the idea of visiting a hospital to be treated an amazing thing.

With wonder, though, comes a bit of fear, intermingled with all the uncertainty inherent in the process of being medically examined, but the intention is to offer different ways to engage with the myriad of possibilities that lie in a child’s path when it comes to health. This opens doors that allow readers to peek into the imaginations of children during hospital stays.

These stories are honest and heartfelt. They present epileptic patients as heroes in recovery and testimonial-like cartoons on the steps involved in treating them. They’re mostly 2-4 pages apiece, bits of high energy that go fast but leave an impression. Some contain original character designs from the creators of the comic, followed by the story that the assigned illustrator created with them.


One story in particular shows how a nurse turns the act of putting a cannula (a thin tube inserted into a vein to administer medicine or drain fluids) in a patient’s arm into a kind of game that makes the process more pleasant and less frightening. This comic, which is just one page long, shows the impact that nurses have on children going through hospital experiences for the first time.

There are pages that focus on pattern art and abstract expressions for patients who have difficulty communicating verbally or visual. They’re given a chance to express themselves in their way, showing just how adaptable and inclusive comics can be as a medium. Comics are a tool that can be made by anyone, as I have said before. Hospi-TalesIt shows how liberating the act of creating comics can be. To further emphasize the point, it also includes a tutorial on how you can make your own comics.

Hospi-TalesThis book is special. It is inspiring and informative. The author uses vibrant colors and dynamic storytelling to inspire readers. It’s an ode to creativity with a strong inspirational pull that’ll make readers want to pick up a pen and paper and make comics. These projects expand the potential and scope of stories. These projects are a testament to the value of art for noble causes.


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