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Rural GP Publishes Comic About Vaccination To Counter Growing Anti-Vac Movement

Seeing vaccination rates drop around the world and outbreaks of diseases such as measles resurging, concerned Canterbury GP Richard Clinghan wanted to find a way to educate children and parents about the importance of vaccination. The result is a comic titled Jenny & the Eddies, a whimsical allegory about vaccines and viruses he hopes will help stop the spread of misinformation, mitigate concerns and ultimately save lives. Jenny & the Eddies is approved by the Immunisation Advisory Centre.

“Globally measles cases have increased by 550% between 2016 and 2019 and there were almost a million cases last year. The worst is yet to come as vaccination programmes have been disrupted by Covid-19 and unfair growing mistrust in vaccines. Jenny & the Eddies is my way of trying to improve the future,” he says.

Lockdown proved the impetus for Richard to finish writing and drawing the comic. Colouring and production was kept within New Zealand to support fellow Kiwis. Richard says his aim with Jenny & the Eddies is to provide factual information in a non-threatening and entertaining way. As a busy GP during a pandemic Richard says drawing not only helps him spread an important message but also maintain his mental wellbeing.

Local Christchurch comic collective Funtime Comics provided support to help Richard publish Jennie & the Eddies. The non-profit group of comic creators is the longest running comic group in New Zealand after it was originally started nearly 30 years ago in 1991 by a group of keen University of Canterbury comic enthusiasts. The group publishes graphic novels showcasing the work of upcoming and veteran Kiwi creators along with international guests.
“Funtime is a grassroots platform that has allowed many new creators to see their work published in ink, and has given them the confidence to pursue their love of comics further,” says Funtime’s Jason Lennie.

2020 has been a virus filled year for the group in more ways than one: Funtime released Tales from Pandemia, full of cartoons by local and international artists inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic, and helped publish The Spanish Lady, a graphic novel about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

“A year plagued by the virus, panic, loss, lockdowns, misinformation, conspiracies and economic crisis has turned the world on its head,” says Jason. “Crisis brings out the best and worst of humanity but it’s creatives that tackle these issues through their creative expression that can help us through uncertainty.”

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