When author Ellen Forney got a diagnosis of bipolar, one of the things she considered was the significant number of artists and writers who suffer(ed) from mental illness. It’s easy to infer that the incidence is higher in this group, but Forney really made me wonder if, rather, most sufferers suffer in private and don’t create works for the public, so the impression is skewed. Forney elegantly depicts her emotions from the manic highs to the depths of despair. Her drawings expressing how depression feels are especially effective and evocative. She is brutally honest in her depictions of her bad choices, the reactions of her friends and family, and her relationship with her psychiatrist as she struggles with the worry that medication will destroy her creativity (it doesn’t)and endures the trials of getting the right combination of medications in the right dosages. You can’t help, but admire her courage, and what a treat that she expresses it so brilliantly. The format is graphic, as in graphic novel, but this is a memoir rather than a novel. As with the best of this genre, so much is expressed with an economy of words. Maybe pictures really are worth a thousand of them.
I’ll relist some of my favorite graphic memoirs:
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
- Stitches by David Small
- The Impostor’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
- Tangles by Sarah Leavett
- Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes by Mary M. Talbot
- French Milk by Lucy Knisley
- Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges
I have several more of this genre on my “to read” list, so look for more in a future post. I just finished Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell which some of you may appreciate; she’s a wonderful artist, but I found her attention to minutia a bit excruciating.