Saturday, December 12, 2015

"My Degeneration" Featured in Thoughtful Alaska News Dispatch Article by Mike Dunham

A perceptive and thoughtful article from Mike Dunham appeared in the Alaska News Dispatch on "My Degeneration" putting it into the larger context of the Graphic Medicine genre. The article yielded the following "... the book presents much of the trauma in the garb of absurd humor. Dunlap-Shohl devotes several panels to recounting how nervous or insensitive doctors broke bad news to patients. Some of their manners were so crude that they seem drawn from the sad, wicked comedy of Vonnegut or Balzac." To which I can only say "Thank you". 

(Worries to self about raising expectations sky-high, then remembers, Mike likely the only living person in Western Hemisphere to have read any Balzac.)


  1. Hi Peter:

    The book arrived from Amazon this week, and I ripped right through it. I have to go back and read more slowly -- I'm mostly a text guy, and a pretty impatient one at that, so I didn't give myself time to appreciate the main part of the book (i.e., the pix). However, I did recognize a reference to a cult movie on p. 85. Way to go, dude, and abide.

    At the top of p. 40, you write about how all you ever wanted to be was a cartoonist and losing that because of PD. That reminded me of the father of a college buddy and roommate, Mark Potok, currently the public face of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Andy, his father, was a painter who had just had his first really big gallery exhibit when he realized that the genetic condition affecting his eyes, Retinitis Pigmentosa, had reached the point where his vision was no longer good enough to continue as a painter. (My family has a much less virulent version of the condition). He wrote up about coming to terms with that in the book Ordinary Daylight, which was well reviewed. Subsequently, he wrote a few other books, the most recent one coming out in 2013, and I think that the judgment is that he found a way around the obstruction that his physical condition created for his artistic drives. I don’t know if this would be of any interest to you; I found it interesting both because I knew Mark and because my long divorced, childless, fiercely independent and self-reliant aunt was about as far gone as Andy from the same disease when the book came out around 1980.

    Anyway, thanks for the book, and hope to see you at the lake next summer.


    1. Paul, thanks for reading, and for recommending Andy Potok's book. I'm constantly amazed at how creative people remain creative in spite of monstrous obstacles. Or perhaps because of them. It's a diabolical world that blinds painters and deafens musicians. And yet many find a way to go on. Ansel Adams was a child prodigy who had his future career as a concert pianist derailed by his hands, which never grew large enough. So instead, he picked up a camera. Imagine the guts that took. Hoping our paths cross soon, Peter