Next Book: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

Marbles by Ellen Forney
The Next Book is: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
The Author is: Ellen Forney
Here is a link to a review/synopsis:
The meeting date/time will be: Sept, 16, 5-8 PM
The meeting location will be: Leslie’s Place

About Marbles

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.

This book is going to be a bit difficult to discuss because a lot of what I like about the format (comics) can’t be discussed but only shown.

Here’s an example.

From page 7

In a normal book this would probably only be a single sentence or two. The one that appears at the bottom and maybe some setup.

Instead, because of the format, she is able to do a lot more.

She evokes the sounds and shape of popcorn with the little text kernels. Plus it seems very random. What do I read first? Is there an order? It’s all over the place. Just like popping popcorn! The drawing fully embodies the metaphor.

You can’t do things like this with any other medium.

I found a good article from a speech by someone named Warren Ellis that really describes this better than I did:

Comics are not like film. Comics take things from film, but the two cannot be interchanged. Comics became a hybrid artform. They take things from cartoons, illustration, prose, theatre, film, music, t-shirts, posters, journalism and a dozen other things. Imagine putting twenty different animals in a blender and that the resulting horror emerged somehow alive, shrieking and wearing Star Wars underpants three sizes too small. That’s comics.


In a film screenplay, one page of manuscript is one minute on screen. And, on the big screen, time moves normally, and you have no control over it . Not here in comics. You can make time run so fast that the reader thinks that your comic has been injected into their eyeball, or so slow and heavy that the reader feels like you’ve boiled a doorstop novel into some condensed informational substrate.

We’re out on the fringes of the culture. We can get as weird as we like.

Sequential art creates a suspension of disbelief and pulls you into its world. Television, you have to sit there and let it do it to you. Comics are a window you step through and act behind.