AUTHOR: Ellen Forney
DATE FINISHED: April 20
BLURB: Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.
Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.
Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.
REVIEW: I don't read a lot of graphic novels, and when I do, they have a tendency to be memoirs. I have no idea how it turns out like that. I've had this one on my TBR pile for years, based off reviews it got when it came out in 2012. It was refreshingly honest about what it means to get diagnosed as bipolar, and the ensuing discussion - which is really the thematic thrust of the book - about whether or not creativity relies upon some sort of mental disorder was fascinating. I can't say that I agree with her original belief that it is, which made it frustrating as she repeatedly sabotages her own care in defense of it. The art style was very frenetic, too, and while it's a brilliant choice to reflect her manic state of mind, I got weary of it when it went on too long. I can understand why it's so favored, but for me personally, it wasn't nearly as hard-hitting as I expected.
SQUARE: Comic or Graphic Novel