How do we connect? We do it, or try to do it, in a variety a ways. It’s not always easy but it’s far better than its opposite, to disconnect. I aspire to connect with you. I make this preface because I am genuinely inspired by my latest subject for review, Joel Craig’s graphic memoir, WELCOME TO NURSING HELLo.
Most of you, if not all of you, reading this can easily relate to the fact that we must sacrifice for our art. Those of us who pursue the arts realize that a “day job” is likely to run at odds with our passion. A balance must be struck. This is at the heart of what Joel Craig is writing about. His book is dead-on funny and dead-on serious about the business of living life to the fullest.
Craig is full of life. He, and his husband Donovan, together entered the field of nursing. Donovan took the lead and Joel followed. It wasn’t Joel’s idea, get it? And that’s part of the conflict that Joel must come to terms with. He’s become a nurse, he thinks, just for the job security. What’s the fun in that? Well, the job security. But Joel, being a sensitive and creative person, is not one to just accept fate. So, if he’s going to be a nurse, he’s going to understand his new position in life on a deeper level. He did aspire to be a successful actor, after all. He’s not going to let go of his creative life. And he knows, deep inside, that he cares about being a nurse.
What results from Craig’s confronting this crossroads in his life is more than a book full of funny observations. Craig has a way of opening the door wide to his inner life. It’s uninhibited, natural, and quite fascinating. With ease, he lets us in on life as a nurse at an impressively intimate level. Hey, his drawings are simple and his narrative is casual but it all just adds up. We learn about the bad nurses in charge as well as the good ones. And we learn that some nurses can be labeled as “bad” when the ugly truth is that there are such things as “bad” patients. And you can rely upon Craig to provide lively, and insightful, examples.
Madonna, the singer not the religious figure, provides inspiration for Craig. She is brought to life a number of times, so much so that she becomes a recurring character. And she can always be counted on to offer solid advice. Another way for Craig to cope is to sometimes see himself as playing the character of a nurse on the vast stage of the busy Los Angeles hospital that he works for. That can help. Often, he must confront reality head-on with quick smarts and with a heart.
Craig shares with us how he stumbled upon comics and became a cartoonist himself. As he says in the book, “Drawing was my only way to connect with other people even if it was only inside my own head.” That’s a beautiful sentiment. With a determined voice, Craig proves to be an excellent guide to the world of nursing and what it takes for a life well lived. Without hesitation, I highly recommend his book.
Visit Joel Craig and find out how you can purchase WELCOME TO NURSING HELLo, in print or digital, over at his website right here.