I am a lover all all types of media, including graphic novels and comic books. Here’s an interview with Nadia Shammas about her current project, CORPUS: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments.
Tell me a little about yourself
My name is Nadia Shammas, and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 6 years old. I’m 24 now, and I can’t remember a time before my diagnoses. I’m also a freelance editor, and I work mostly with comic creators! CORPUS is my first project.
How did you come about with the idea of CORPUS: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments? How did you find all of your contributors?
CORPUS came out of a lot of things. I was watching the current administration’s attitude towards healthcare, and I started reflecting about my own experience as a diabetic. I’m a strong believer in the ability of fiction to spark empathy, and I thought about how despite the fact that I was a voracious reader growing up, I had only ever come across one book that spoke to my experience. I considered even further about how many others would love to see their stories told, how much it would mean to them, how much it would have meant to me. I decided to make the book I wanted to exist. I put out a call on the internet, and I promoted the project at New York Comic Con. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Besides the established creators who agreed to add their voice and talk about their personal experiences with illness, I received over 200 submissions. I realized then how serious the gap was when it came to diversity about illness, something that I had never questioned before despite the fact that I’ve spent my whole life as someone with a chronic illness. I’m very honored to be working with the creators who have compiled the final roster.
What do you like about comics as a form of visual art and storytelling?
I’ve always loved comics, and it’s a medium I’ve always wanted to work in. I feel as though comics is the perfect medium to express a variety of illness. With the marriage of art and writing, you can really represent a mood, a feeling, a tone. Many of the creators are using very surreal images to help describe what its like to live with their specific illness, disability, or injury. Comics allows for unique storytelling and visceral imagery to better represent an experience. Illness isn’t always so straightforward. It can be very difficult to explain to those who don’t suffer the same thing, and even with that, every body and mind experiences an illness differently. Comics as a medium allows writers and artists to capture both the informative language of telling a story alongside images which evoke the emotion of perspective.
Do all of your contributing artists have lived experience with disability, illness or being sick? If so, why is it so important for narratives to reflect these diverse experiences?
The contributors have a really wide range of experiences with disability and illness. Some are writing from the perspective of caretakers, some are sharing the perspective of living with a mental or physical chronic illness, and some are writing about healthcare experiences or problems with medical debt. I really wanted to embrace the range of ways illnesses can enter and shape our lives, and I wanted to make a point to capture as many experiences as I can. I hope that a majority of people will open this book and recognize themselves in it, or realize that illness has shaped their life in a way that they hadn’t considered. It’s so important for these diverse voices to be given a platform because there is an unfortunate problem where disabled or ill people become “othered.” With these stories, we can begin to undo that damage.
You recently launched a Kickstarter to get CORPUS published–what are the goals for your crowdfunding and what are your plans after your campaign?
My goals for crowdfunding is to make enough to self-publish CORPUS in digital and in print. We’ve been very fortunate to receive a lot of support from the professional comic community, but without pledges this book will not be able to be made. I am paying each writer and artist for their work, as I do not believe in free labor. If funding is successful, it allows for me to gain momentum and try to get CORPUS in wider distribution. I hope to see CORPUS in stores someday. Furthermore, because of the number of submissions I had, I was not able to include everyone’s story. I hope to create a Volume 2 of CORPUS if Volume 1 is successful.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who pledges. If this books winds up in your hands, I hope you find something special in it that you needed. Everyone working on CORPUS strongly believes in the importance of this project, and I hope you do too.
More about CORPUS and Nadia Shammas
Lu, Alexander. (February 12, 2018). This Kickstarter comics anthology is for all of us who’ve felt alone in our sicknesses. Comicsbeat.com