Call for Comics Submissions

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Graphic Truths: The Making (and Unmaking) of a Doctor

An anthology of comics, edited by Shelley Wall PhD, Josh Feder MD, Jillian Horton MD, and Allan Peterkin MD.

  • Are you in pre-med studies, medical school, or medical residency anywhere in the world?

  • Are you a medical doctor with vivid recollections of your past medical training?

  • Have you witnessed the medical training process as a family member or as another healthcare professional?

We are seeking comics about your current and/or past experiences for an anthology to be published by Penn State University Press as part of its Graphic Medicine series. 

Submission instructions appear below.

Deadline: July 31, 2020 (extended from initial CFP)

The arts provide a powerful means to represent the intense and complex process of becoming a doctor. The medium of comics, with its combination of image and text and its rich vocabulary of narrative conventions, offers a fresh means to convey the nuances of communication within the clinical context. Until now, no anthology of comics has captured the experience of medical trainees across the arc of their journey, from applicant to fully-fledged physician. The volume we are proposing, tentatively entitled Graphic Truths: The Making (and Unmaking) of a Doctor, will reflect the breadth, as well as the heights and depths, of medical training across countries and across specialties. This anthology will provide a channel for medical trainees and those close to them to share their stories, and give the wider public a meaningful and accessible glimpse “behind the scenes” of medical training and practice.

No art experience necessary!

Images can be simple. What we're interested in are your stories, told with image and text. Submissions can be single panels, or stories told in a sequence of panels. Specifications (length, page size, and file type) are detailed below.

We invite submissions on themes such as:

  • COVID-19 and medical training

  • Getting into medical school
  • Studying anatomy and the biomedical sciences (pre-clerkship)
  • Hitting the wards (clerkship)
  • Choosing a specialty
  • Matching for residency/foundation training
  • Residency/post-graduate medical education from year one to exams and graduation
  • Being an international trainee

  • Power relationships on the wards
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals
  • Working within specific national/local healthcare systems
  • Technologies

  • Moments of surprise, inspiration and disillusionment
  • Emergencies
  • Images I’ll never forget
  • Patients and families I’ll never forget  
  • Mistakes, failures, and regrets
  • Resilience and commitment
  • Milestones and firsts 
  • Living, learning and loving with no time
  • Self-care and well-being over a long career
  • What it means to be a doctor in the 21st century

We also welcome submissions on any other aspect of medical training. Surprise us!

Technical specifications:

  • 1 to 4 pages long
  • Image size: 6 inches wide x 8.5 inches high. Please create comics at this size or as close to it as possible, since much larger images may not be legible when they are reduced to print size.
  • All submissions must be in English.
  • Line art (i.e. black and white only, with no shades of gray) or halftone (i.e. using tonal/shaded illustration, or collage that can be reproduced in shades of gray) 
  • It is not possible for us to reproduce comics in color.
  • Comics may be created digitally or hand-drawn and then scanned.
  • Text may be computer-generated or hand-lettered; please ensure it will be legible at the final size of reproduction.
  • Resolution: Line art: save/scan at 1200 ppi; Halftone: save/scan at 300 ppi
  • File format: .tif file, Photoshop (.psd), or Illustrator (.ai or .eps)
  • Please do not include any logos, trademarks, or wordmarks in your comic.
  • Name your files using the format "lastname_firstname_page#." (e.g. "Student_Medical_p1.tif").
  • Place multi-page files in a single folder for upload.

We will be posting videos on this site to assist you with image preparation in the near future. 

Originality: Work must be original to you, and previously unpublished. 

Patient confidentiality: The privacy of patients and clients of health care practitioners must be protected. Physicians and health care practitioners who write about their patients or colleagues must alter any identifying details and characteristics.

Acceptance: Final acceptance will be subject to approval by the editorial team.


Submission Process

Please send the following information to

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • A phone number where we can contact you
  • Your mailing address
  • The title of your submission
  • A statement about your submission (maximum 350 words)
  • Your stage of medical training (e.g., pre-med, medical school, post-graduate training, practising physician, or your relationship to medical training and practice)

Upload your submission to our Dropbox at this link.


About the Editorial Team

Shelley Wall (co-editor): Shelley Wall MScBMC PhD is a certified medical illustrator and an assistant professor in the Biomedical Communications graduate program, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto. She has a long-standing interest in visual storytelling in healthcare, and has been on the steering committee for the annual Comics & Medicine conferences since 2012.

Joshua D. Feder (co-editor): Josh Feder MD is an experienced and compassionate psychiatrist serving children, adults, and families in and around Solana Beach, California. With more than three decades of experience, Dr. Feder is board-certified in general psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry. Outside of his practice, Dr. Feder recently authored the highly acclaimed Child Medication Fact Book for Psychiatric Practice and serves as Editor-in-Chief at Carlat Child Psychiatry Report. He actively volunteers in communities affected by armed conflict, including the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Feder also teaches at the Fielding Graduate University School of Leadership Studies in the Infant and Early Childhood Development Ph.D. program, and at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry.

Jillian Horton (co-editor): Jillian Horton MD is a graduate of McMaster Medical School and completed her residency and fellowship in general internal medicine at the University of Toronto in 2004. She was the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Student Affairs at the University of Manitoba from 2014–2018 and now directs programs in wellness and medical humanities at the Max Rady College of Medicine. She has won awards for mentorship, professionalism, and teaching at the undergraduate level. She is also a mother, musician, and writer.

Allan Peterkin (co-editor): Allan Peterkin MD is a Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Toronto where he heads the program In Health, Arts and Humanities. He is the author of sixteen books for adults and children, including textbooks on physician wellbeing and on the medical care of sexual minorities, and he has published short fiction, poetry, book reviews and essays, which explore cultural, medical and psychological themes. Dr. Peterkin is a founding editor of Ars Medica: A Journal of Medicine, the Arts, and Humanities. He has published poetry, fiction and critical essays on narrative medicine and the use of the humanities in medical education in Canadian and international journals.  

Kratika Mishra (project manager)