The Children’s Tumor Foundation Continues to Embrace Graphic Medicine with the Understanding NF2 Comic

Children’s Tumor Foundation

The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) has released their newest resource, Understanding NF2, an eight-page educational comic created in collaboration with award-winning storytelling studio Bottled Lightning. The comic is part of the growing movement of “Graphic Medicine,” the use of comic books to educate individuals about complicated medical issues.

Understanding NF2 is a memoir-style comic that’s part of the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s ongoing effort to raise awareness about neurofibromatosis (NF) and create new and interesting resources for the millions of people worldwide who live with the rare disease.

Written by CTF’s Director of Communications Vanessa Shealy Younger and illustrated by Eisner-nominated artist Kevin Colden, the comic tells the true story of Billy Nguyen, who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2, or NF2, at the age of six. NF2 is characterized by the development of benign tumors on the hearing nerves, and sometimes leads to partial or complete hearing loss or other difficult problems. 

Once Billy learns of his NF2 diagnosis, the story tracks his childhood struggle to understand the difficult disorder. His Vietnamese parents spoke some English, but all the medical terms were too overwhelming, leaving young Billy to make a lot of adult decisions on his own.

Now a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Billy was a part of the process from the beginning. Colorist Chris Sotomayor and letterer Nate Pride round out the creative team.

Artist Kevin Colden has a personal connection to NF through his wife, graphic novelist Miss Lasko-Gross. “My wife’s second cousin has NF1, so I’ve personally seen how NF can affect families. Working with this script and being able to bring Billy’s story to life was a wonderful opportunity,” Kevin remarked.   

This is the third collaboration between CTF and the storytelling studio Bottled Lighting. Their previous collaborations Moxie and Sparx Introduce the Accelerator and Moxie and Sparx Explain NF1 are available to download for free from the CTF website.