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Episode 172 - Reviews of My Degeneration, Aliceheimer’s, Pencil Head #1, and The Cask of Amontillado

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It's time for another round of insightful reviews, and this week Gwen and Derek have just what the doctored ordered. In fact, the first two books they discuss are part of Penn State University Press' Graphic Medicine series. Peter Dunlap-Shohl's My Degeneration: A Journey through Parkinson’s is the author's account of living with Parkinson's disease. It's not exactly a memoir, although it does explore the impact that the disease has had on Dunlap-Shohl's life over the past decade. My Degeneration is more of an instructional text, or perhaps a survival guide, on how to navigate the debilitating straits of his condition. As Gwen and Derek reveal, the book is an informative, no-nonsense look at Parkinson's, and while it posses a hopeful and even upbeat tone, it is anything but a Pollyanna narrative. The second book from the Graphic Medicine series is Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s through the Looking Glass, Dana Walrath's account of confronting her mother's Alzheimer's disease (and which will be released in April). The author uses Lewis Carroll's classic children's tale as a metaphor for her mother's condition, as well as her own grappling with the dilemma. Although technically not a comic, Aliceheimer's could be considered a "graphic narrative" in that Walrath juxtaposes collage-style illustrations with textual accounts of her mother's experiences. Both Graphic Medicine books are deeply personal and moving texts that can speak directly to patients, caregivers, and medical professionals. Next, Derek and Gwen take a look at the first issue of Ted McKeever's new miniseries, Pencil Head (Image Comics). What makes this title so striking and so different from his previous works (such as Miniature Jesus and Superannuated Man) is that it's about the comics industry and, according to the publisher, a semi-autobiographical account of the strange things that occur in the life of a creator. Indeed, McKeever's shark, and at times surreal, black-and-white art is the perfect vehicle to reveal the weirdness underlying the profession. Finally, Gwen and Derek wrap up the show by looking at the latest adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic gothic tale, Enrica Jang and Jason Strutz's The Cask of Amontillado (Action Lab Studios). Derek is an aficionado of Poe adaptations, and the two begin their discussion by highlighting both the adherences to and the deviations from the original narrative. Jang doesn't really retain the short story's complicating narrative frame -- Montresor's confessional (and ambiguous) account provided years after the event -- but this one-shot does set up her and Strutz's upcoming limited series, The House of Montresor. This will be their sequel to the classic, a look into the consequences of Montresor's calculated murder and what it means to both his and Fortunato's families.