The Coagulation Cascade

One of the most interesting things about the human body is that as I sit here and write this, by all accounts things on the surface appear calm. By this I mean that other than the gentle rhythmic rise and fall of my chest and the movement of my fingers on the keyboard there appears to be precious little else going on. Yet if I close my eyes and really concentrate on listening, I can hear the subtlest little clues as to another whole world of activity: the occasional muted squelch of my bowels going through their peristaltic motions, the gentle lub-dub of my heart, the occasional creak of joints as I turn my head, and the sound of my intermittent swallowing. All of these noises clue me in to the fact that there is another body within my body, machinery whirring continuously in the background, largely managed by the musings of a nervous system that I have no direct control over, appropriately named the autonomic nervous system.

And within the divide between the autonomous and the conscious there are further subsystems. It is fair to say that all of these are linked in symbiotic ways. But one such system bubbles up in terms of sheer complexity, second only to the nervous system – the vascular/hematologic system. The notion of a vast network of interconnected vessels able to supply, in one sense or another, every one of the 37.2 trillion cells in your body is somewhat mind-boggling. And early on, from an evolutionary standpoint, it became evident that the ability to self-heal, free from willful thought, would be necessary so that we as a species could then focus on the world around us and our interactions with it.

To us, the coagulation cascade represents one of these miracles of self-healing – an elegant series of biochemical reactions that result in the great plumbing operation that is our circulatory system being fixed from the inside. We wanted to capture the nuance of primary vs. secondary hemostasis. When we sat down with Eleanor to develop this concept, we were primarily focused on the ordered sequence of events and trying to make this seem both logical and apparent. She took this notion and melded it with the panel-based storytelling best exemplified by comics and graphic novels. Being fans of the genre (our favorites include Watchmen, Persepolis, and V for Vendetta), we were 100% for this approach. The end result is a glorious fusion of color, narrative, and information.

Style notes: Authentic comic book lettering / Use of a Vitruvian man motif!

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