Blog post: Artist wanted, here are the details

Steve Simon


I have gotten several nibbles on a posting that I made last week. Here is some more information.

I am interested in contracting with one or more artists who can help me develop a couple of case studies in medical research. These studies are commonly done, but I want to approach them a bit differently and use a graphic novel format. That may not be quite accurate, but it is close. One thing I have found is that most of the case studies I have looked at (fraud and failure in research) are fraught with emotion and you can get that across more readily with images than with words.

You might take a look at this page about Andrew Wakefield to get a rough idea of what I had in mind.

Eventually I would like to publish a book, but for the short term, I am looking to post the case studies on the web under an open source license.

I started a case study many years ago, but I had to pay for the artwork out of my own pocket. That plus the competition of other projects for my time caused me to put the project on hold.

My boss was goading me to put in some research grants and there was a small program called Arts+Medicine Trailblazer that seemed interesting. So I put in a proposal for 5,000 and it got funded. I used the provocative title “Celebrating the failures of medical research using a graphic novel format.” I’m already regretting the title because it almost sounds that I’m gloating over other people’s problems. I think a fairer title would have been “Remembering and learning from the failures of medical research.”

If you are interested in working with me on this, the first thing you should do is read my grant. Then take a look at the TGN1412 case study that I have partially developed. I like the illustrations that I got, but when I put everything together I realized that I needed several more illustrations to get the story right.

You can find further background on TGN 1412 here. A good news summary of this event appears in The Mirror.

I’ll probably work with the original artist, Julia Berman, on this (if she is still interested).

I also want to start a second case study and this would look at the Duke ovarian cancer research scandal.

Here’s what I am looking for. I want a series of images in black-and-white at a resolution that will work well with a typical Powerpoint presentation. I’d like the images to avoid text in the image itself (such as speech balloons) for several reasons. First, it would allow me greater flexibility in using the images in web pages, Powerpoint presentations, research posters, etc. It would facilitate the translation of these case studies to a different language, if there ends up being any demand for this. Finally, it allows me to change my mind easily if the accompanying dialog is in a plain text file.

I’m not completely wedded to these ideas, but I wanted to outline my initial conceptions.

I’d pay for each image, of course, and publish them under an open source attribution license. If I turn the project into a book, it would also be published open source, so there will not be any royalty income stream down the road for either of us.

I won’t get the funding until July 1, but it is never too early to talk.

Important notice, January 23, 2020.

I am in the process of updating my website and blog and am adopting a simpler approach that will ease the maintenance of these web pages. I have about 2,000 pages and they are in a wide range of styles and formats. I will be using markdown code to create fairly minimimally formatted html pages. The process is tricky, and I expect to see a lot of misformatted pages and broken links during this transition. Please be patient.