Graphic Novel to Raise Awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Photo credit: FiercePharma
The first ever graphic novel series written to raise awareness for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has finally come to a close. The book was created as part of a campaign for IBD patient advocacy. Called IBD Unmasked, the graphic novel series was born through collaborations between three huge organizations: sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the company worked with Marvel Comics and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) to make this inspiring project a reality.
The graphic novel was created to raise awareness of IBD and it has almost reached its end. It was part of a campaign for IBD patients and was thus entitled IBD Unmasked. The comic came to fruition thanks to a collaboration amongst three large organizations. It was sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which partnered with Marvel Comics and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America to produce this inspiring project. Teams of marketers from Takeda as well as representatives from Marvel and the CCFA came together to promote the campaign and engaged in a great deal of brainstorming for new ideas.
The main goal was to create a story that would bring some positive energy to the IBD community. The team wanted to highlight the strong determination present in each and every individual who lives with this disease. To accomplish this, they required personal input from patients themselves, so they started recruiting IBD patients to partake in a panel where they could draw inspiration from each other and write down their personal stories. The panel of patients was very helpful because, apart from them, no one else could have provided such personal information about this disease. The creators and authors of the book wanted to make something that highlighted the various experiences of IBD from the perspective of the patient. The panel included a diverse group of people from all over the world who suffered from IBD. They wanted to be sure that the content would be beneficial for the international community as a whole. A Marvel comics author was recruited to write the story for the graphic novel in an adventurous way. Using his talent and creativity, he managed to bring color to the book as well as make the story inspiring for everyone.
The first book was published in July, 2016 and featured a team of superheroes known as Unbeatable. These superheroes possess special powers that stem from their willpower and endurance, as well as their experiences living with IBD. Although powerful, the supers also suffer from IBD in the novel, and the characters each have various diseases that are inclusive of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. There are also moments of weakness for the heroes, such as feeling embarrassed about their medical conditions. Ultimately, though, they endure it all and grow stronger as a result. Apart from raising awareness about this disease, Takeda is known to make IBD drugs and is also a philanthropic company. With the help of the novel as part of the larger campaign, which also included social media and advertisements, they sought to inspire patients to have greater confidence and open up about the disease. There is hope that this project will help IBD patients feel encouraged rather than ashamed. The novel was made available online, but it is also set to be put into physical print.