Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review - Marbles by: Ellen Forney

Title: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me
Author: Ellen Forney
Publisher: Avery
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase


Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between “crazy” and “creative” in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.

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.

My thoughts:

Did you know that Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, Tennessee Williams, Michelangelo Leo Tolstoy, Anne Sexton and Emily Dickinson all suffered from bipolar disorder? I found out about this in Ellen Forney's Marbles, in which she explores how living with bipolar disorder has affected her artistic side.

Ellen Forney handles a tough disorder in a fun way in Marbles. Normally, I prefer novels to comic books, but after I was done with the book, I realized it wouldn't be as affective if it was in a different format. Forney has put forward very honestly her own private life, her disorder and how it affected her job, her artistic spirit, what kind of medication she used and their effects as well. Her drawings, on the other hand, are in-your-face descriptions of mind fogs, exhaustion and/or hyper moods.

Ellen Forney really does deserve a standing ovation for her courage. It must not have been easy to revisit the darkest parts of your life and put them out there honestly for the entire world to see. She doesn't only include the good things either; her mistakes and her outbursts are in there as well.

Marbles does handle bipolar disorder in a fun way while not leaving the dark side out. 

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