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Interview: The Funny Animal History of Healthcare

Interview by Troy Allen


Why is healthcare so expensive? How does insurance work? Why does socialized medicine sound so scary? Why is it so hard to improve America's healthcare system?
Arriving into comic shops on September 28, 2022,  Health & Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the U.S. Healthcare System (JUL221388). Combinies facts, fables, photos, and funny animals to explain the state of the health insurance marketplace. And it is free!

We talked with the cartoonist and co-creator James Sturm about the upcoming release!

 Health and Wealth cover

PREVIEWSWorld: So what made you want to focus on healthcare for younger readers?

James SturmThough the book is drawn in the style of a children’s book, it’s meant for audiences of all ages—hopefully, the children’s book style helps make this material more inviting.

I wanted to do a comic book about healthcare because I wanted to contribute something—even if it is just helping a few more people understand the growing crisis. The US has the highest overall healthcare costs in the developed world but ranks close to last in healthcare quality, efficiency, and access to care.

PREVIEWSWorld: Do you both have a background in this sort of thing?

James Sturm: Only as a patient. And because I didn’t have much background, I asked all the dumb, obvious questions. Like so many others, I found navigating the healthcare system frustrating and incomprehensible. Putting together this book was my attempt to understand the healthcare system, how it works, and how we got here and to share this information with readers.

Health & Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the U.S. Healthcare System 

PREVIEWSWorld: Why tackle this subject in graphic novel form?

James Sturm: Comics are an incredible medium for organizing a lot of information in a way that’s easy to absorb. For something as complex as the US healthcare system, I knew my cartooning abilities would be tested.

PREVIEWSWorld: What made artist Kazimir Lee the perfect artist for this project?

James Sturm: Kaz is an amazing talent who can work in a range of styles. I worked with Kaz on the Harriet Tubman, Toward Freedom graphic novel and that book has a completely different look. Kaz is fun to collaborate with and their sense of play and keen wit is evident in every panel of the comic.

 James STrum

PREVIEWSWorld: What new challenges do you think this upcoming generation faces when it comes to healthcare?

James Sturm: In this broken, fragmented system, this younger generation either won’t have access to the care they need or be given care at a price that will bury them and their families in debt. As Health and Wealth illustrates, this is happening right now and is only getting worse. That’s why it’s so important to understand how the system works: both to better navigate it and to help change it.

PREVIEWSWorld: As a writer writing for younger readers, was there a particular subject that was very difficult to navigate?

James Sturm: Writing about how hospitals charge for their services was hard. It’s a really secretive process that even most people in the medical professions don’t understand.

Health & Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the U.S. Healthcare System 

When I started working on the comic, my goal was to send a copy of the comic book to every member of the US Congress (which we did). Polls show that across the political divide, healthcare is the number one issue they want their representatives to address. Having written for young readers prepared me to write in a way that even a Senator could understand!

PREVIEWSWorld: What has the response been to the book been like so far?

James Sturm: The response has been good. The book is circulating in medical schools, conferences, and organizations dedicated to healthcare reform. I‘m really grateful to Diamond and all the comic book shop owners who will help distribute the book and make this comic more accessible to a larger audience.

Health & Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the U.S. Healthcare System

Health & Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System by  James Strum and Kazimir Lee is available September 28, 2022

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(W) James Sturm, Kazimir Lee (A/CA) Kazimir Lee
Why is healthcare so expensive? How does insurance work? Why does socialized medicine sound so scary? Why is it so hard to improve America's healthcare system? Combining facts, fables, photos, and funny animals, Health and Wealth, A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System explores these questions and more!
In Shops: Oct 05, 2022
PREVIEWS Page #280

(W) James Sturm (A/CA) James Sturm
Reuniting America's greatest pastime with its hidden history, the graphic novel tells the story of the Stars of David, a barnstorming Jewish baseball team of the depression era. Led by its manager and third baseman, the nomadic team travels from small town to small town providing the thrill of the sport while playing up their religious exoticism as a curio for people to gawk at, heckle, and taunt.  When the team's fortunes fall, the players are presented a plan to get people in the stands. But by placing their fortunes in the hands of a promoter, the Stars of David find themselves fanning the flames of ethnic tensions. Baseball, small towns, racial tensions, and the desperate grasp for the American Dream: The Golem's Mighty Swing is a classic American novel.
In Shops: May 24, 2017
SRP: $16.95
PREVIEWS Page #354

(W) James Sturm (A/CA) James Sturm
Acclaimed cartoonist and pioneering founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, James Sturm presents a graphic novel about an early 20th century Jewish businessman. Sturm draws a quiet, reflective, and beautiful portrait of eastern Europe in the early 1900s, bringing to life the hustle and bustle of an Old World marketplace on the brink of industrialization.
In Shops: Mar 17, 2010
SRP: $21.95
PREVIEWS Page #253


Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet. 

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