"Facing" illness: what the "funnies" can teach us about caregiver role, response, and needs
An overt focus on the effects of illness is still rare in mainstream syndicated comics. One of the few examples can be found in the "Funky Winkerbean" comic strip, by Tom Batiuk, which not only highlights a woman's ultimately terminal experience with cancer, but also provides great insight into how the illness experience affects her husband, who must learn to be supportive of her needs while not sublimating his own. Using a broad discourse analysis framework, we examine how his feelings, needs, words, and actions evolve, intersect, and interact with each other and with this situation.
Sarah Russe is a scientific director at Discovery Chicago where she specializes in community advocacy projects. She holds a master's degree in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University, is completing another in Bioethics & Health Policy from Loyola University, and is committed to exploring the synergies between these two fields.
Judith Kaplan-Weinger is professor of linguistics at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago where she teaches courses and conducts research in discourse analysis, anthropological linguistics, and sociolinguistics. Her current research focuses on the linguistic and visual semiotic analysis of texts of loss, grief, and mourning.