Harvard Students and Cartoonists Team Up For Public Healthcare Education Comic and Campaign

White River Junction, Vermont, May 3, 2021 – Ask most people how the US healthcare system works and the answer you’re most likely to receive is “not well.” Despite having the highest overall healthcare costs in the developed world, the US ranks last in many measurements of healthcare access and quality. Too many people can’t get the care they need.

In response to this healthcare crisis, 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellow James Sturm assembled a team of Harvard students, cartoonists, healthcare professionals and scholars to create Health and Wealth:  A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System. 

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that healthcare costs top the list of household expenses the public worries about affording, and Americans consistently put healthcare costs at the top of their list when it comes to healthcare issues they want the government to address.

“The goal of the comic is to provide a baseline understanding of the healthcare system so people can feel a little less intimidated by its complexity and cruelty, and more empowered to advocate for themselves and those they care for.” —James Sturm, Director The Center for Cartoon Studies


A comic book may seem like an odd choice to engage with such a complex and serious topic as healthcare, but according to education advocate and The New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly, “When it’s done well, a cartoon can actually be not a reduction, but a summation and a distillation of complex ideas.” Health and Wealth was inspired by SchoolHouse Rock videos, classic board games, and children’s book artists like Richard Scarry who have the magical ability to educate and delight readers while exploring complicated  topics. 


Harvard students joined the comic’s creative team through the Radcliffe Research Partnership program. The students came from a variety of academic backgrounds including history of science, biology, folklore, mythology, and anthropology.


Healthcare costs are the number one reason Americans go bankrupt and as a result more and more people are turning to crowdsourcing to pay for care.  On May 3, a GoFundMe campaign called “GoFundMe Can’t Fix Healthcare will be launched to bring attention to the project and generate discussions around the country’s healthcare crisis.

GoFundMe hosts over 250,000 medical campaigns a year yet studies show that nine out of ten of these campaigns don’t meet their stated financial goals and the majority don’t even get halfway there. For marginalized groups, especially people of color and the LGBTQ community, the fundraising statistics are even more disheartening.

According to a statement from GoFundMe, “A crowdfunding platform can not and should not be a solution to complex, systemic problems that must be solved with meaningful public policy. We believe that affordable access to comprehensive healthcare is a right—and action must be taken by the government to make this a reality for all Americans.”  If the GoFundMe campaign reaches its $3500 goal, a copy of the comic book will be sent to all 535 members of Congress. We will also send copies to partner organizations that promote healthcare education and reform like Physicians For A National Health Program and The Graphic Medicine International Collective, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to guide and support the use of comics in health.


The Press Kit Folder can be found here. It contains:
a PDF excerpt of the comic 
Sample pages including cover JPEGS suitable for sharing on digital platforms
High resolution PDFs sample pages for print 


James Sturm, Enjoys Melatonin
Director, The Center for Cartoon Studies, 2020-21 Radcliffe Fellow
Sturm’s comics address issues of faith, race, and American identity, and his graphic novels include Off Season (Drawn and Quarterly, 2019), The Golem’s Mighty Swing (Drawn and Quarterly, 2017), Market Day (Drawn and Quarterly, 2010), and the popular instructional series for children, Adventures in Cartooning (with Andrew Arnold ‘07 and Alexis Frederick-Frost ‘07). Sturm, a contributor to The New York Times and the New Yorker, is a two-time MacDowell Fellow whose work has been exhibited and translated throughout the world.

Dominick Contreras, Accident Prone
History and Science, Harvard College ‘23
Dominick plans on receiving his MPH and MD. One day, he hopes to become a pediatric emergency medicine physician. He loves medicine and helping other people. He is also a big fan of medical art and music.

Marissa Diggs, Allergic to the Outdoors
History and Science, Harvard College ‘22
After graduation, Marissa hopes to attend medical school to become a clinical pathologist. She loves ballet, teaching, and advocating for science and healthcare literacy.

Emma Forbes, Torn ACL 3x
Anthropology, Harvard College ‘22
Emma loves reading and doodling and would like to work in youth healthcare one day.

Kazimir Lee, Formerly Addicted to Opioids
Cartoonist, The Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA ‘16
Kazimir Lee has lived for almost equal amounts of time in Malaysia, the UK, and the US. Their work can be found on The Nib and their forthcoming graphic novel (with Whit Taylor), Harriet Tubman: Toward Freedom, will be released by Little, Brown and Company in June.

Sam Nakahira, Bug Phobic
The Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA ‘21
Sam makes comics about things that interest her: overlooked histories, dreams, mythology, Marxism, and more. Her work can be found here.

Ava Salzman, Has Never Broken a Bone
Integrative Biology and Folklore & Mythology, Harvard College ‘23
“I realized somewhere along the way that comics are the tool I want to use for the rest of my professional life to tell the stories that capture my academic interests and the complexity of the world’s life-sustaining systems.”

Alisha Yi, Has Seen Her Own Bone 
History and Science, Harvard College ‘22
Alisha is an avid poet, loves running and drawing, and plans to attend medical school following college. 

The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) is a nonprofit college and studio. Drawing upon the talent from our faculty, fellows, students, alumni, and visiting artists, CCS has produced a series of multiple Eisner Award-winning graphic biographies about iconic historical figures (Little, Brown) and The Cartoonist Veteran project (funded by the NEA). At CCS, comics are created to help us understand our community, our world, and ourselves. cartoonstudies.org

For inquiries: [email protected]

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