FIU’s Super Health Heroes Comic Coloring Book uses Art to Promote Healing


On Thursday, September 3rd, 2015, The FIU College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios will host a community comic book coloring event that addresses the issue of childhood Type 1 Diabetes. This is a result of a class project that won the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs Community Grant.

This second Super Health Heroes comic coloring book, The Valiant Quest to the Land of Equilibrium and Fun, was produced in the very first semester of the Community Comic Book Class in the FIU Art + Art History Department. Art students met with medical staff and child-life specialists at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (Miami Children’s Hospital) to gather information about the condition, equipment, lifestyle, and obstacles surrounding Type 1 Diabetes. This information was used for the creation of the comic coloring book. The medical staff from Niklaus Children’s Hospital presented the problems of discouragement and fear in patients to the art students to solve to through art , especially the discouragement and fear related to lifestyle changes and the fear of sharp objects.

A former FIU student who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at Miami Children’s Hospital at age 12 visited the Community Comic Book Class to generously and candidly tell his story. He bravely discussed with the class his fears and mistakes, which led to a character based on him in the comic’s storyline.

The Valiant Quest to the Land of Equilibrium and Fun follows the first community comic coloring, which focused on childhood cancer.

“Artistically, the narrative for Type 1 Diabetes has turned out to be a more challenging condition than that for the first comic coloring book on cancer, because the villains and heroes were not as clearly delineated,” said Gretchen Scharnagl (Instructor, FIU Honors College/FIU College of Architecture + The Arts), who teaches the Community Comic Book Class. “Blood sugar and insulin can be either hero or villain.”

The students solved this through the incorporation of alternative worlds. They included the macro world of the hospital and its procedures and challenges. They also included the micro world of talking fingers and heroic characters like Arthur, the blood glucose meter, Excalibur, the syringe, Lance the lancing device, and the fantastical super micro-biological world of the inner body and bloodstream, where blood cell boats of blood sugars get overloaded, threatening to pluck all the oxygen, until Insulin Jones comes to the rescue.

The entire story addresses normal, healthy lifestyles through acceptance and helpful strategies. The comic coloring book conquers discouragement, alleviates fears, and addresses lifestyle changes head-on.

“This event,” said Scharnagl, “will once again demonstrate the power of art to heal and become a map that helps the young patients find their way to the land of equilibrium and fun.”

On September 4th, the day after the event at the Urban Studios, 400 printed comics and 400 boxes of crayons – generously contributed by the FIU Chemistry Club – will be delivered to Niklaus Children’s Hospital, for children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The printing of the comics is the result of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs Community Grant bestowed upon the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts for the Community Comic Book Class.

Community Comic Book Coloring Event for Super Health Heroes: The Valiant Quest to the Land of Equilibrium and Fun will take place on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 at The FIU College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios: 420 Lincoln Rd. Suite 440, Miami Beach, FL 33139.

All visitors are welcomed to color an enlarged copy of The Valiant Quest to the Land of Equilibrium and Fun. For more information, call (305) 535-1463.

The artists involved in The Valiant Quest to the Land of Equilibrium and Fun are: Melody Aleman, Cristie Alfonso, Jeremy Arocha, Ashley Bruce, Natalia Burgos, Arias Diaz, Kathleen Fernandez, Marienne Figueroa, Shawn Figueroa, Daniel Gutierrez, Alexandra Harari, Paul Iglesias, Bruno Maggi, Alex Maldonado, Holly McCoach, Dan Medina, Eduardo Paez, Justine Patnode, Melissa Pulido, Joey Requejo, Andres Restrepo, Santiago Restrepo, Solangel Rodriguez, Christian Spencer and James Toledo, Gretchen Scharnagl.

miami-dade_logo_colorThe Community Comic Book Coloring event is conducted with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor, and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.

The crayons used at the Community Comic Book Coloring Event for Super Health Heroes are donated by Jerry’s Artarama.

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