16 August 2016

Marbles by Ellen Forney (Graphic Novel)

Title: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michaelangelo and Me
Author: Ellen Forney
Pages: 256
Genre: Comic, Graphic Novel, Art, Memoir, Mental Illness
Book Description:
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.

My Opinion:
This graphic novel follows the life of Ellen Forney as she deals with her diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. This tackles themes such as creativity, mental health, depression and manic episodes.

I found it this book fascinating. I'm very familiar with mental illness however Bipolar is one I'm less aware of so by reading this I learned a lot about mania and the extremities of the ups and downs people can deal with. Similarly, my attention was brought to other artists, writers and well known individuals that suffered with this disorder, such as Sylvia Plath (who I'm very fond of and have reviewed before: see here) Vincent Van Gogh and, of course, Michaelangelo! This illustrates the commonality of the disorder, which I wasn't aware of. I felt like this was clearly portrayed in her comics without romanticising the illness (since this is something I dislike and is increasingly common in novels these days.)

The illustrations in this graphic novel were lovely. They followed a monochromatic theme which I felt fit really well with the black and white topic of the novel. The art was minimalist and was something that I find very important in graphic novels because even if the story line is good, if the art isn't up to standard I don't find it as enjoyable. However the cartoon structure was something I very much enjoyed here!

One of the themes in this novel that I found interesting was her take on creativity, especially her struggle with coming to terms with the possibility losing her creative powers due to the medication she was on. Forney tackles the idea of 'tortured artists' and investigates whether mental illness enhances creativity or decreases it. This is a unique topic that isn't written about in many novels so I really likes hearing her opinion and seeing the research she found (especially as this is something I struggle with also)

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The artwork was funny and pleasing to read; I loved the colour scheme! I found it's main focus into Bipolar Disorder fascinating and feel that this graphic novel helps to raise awareness for mental disorders, especially those that are more rare. Hearing about her own experiences in this memoir really added a realness to the novel that improved the story line and made it so much more interesting. It's a short read (as most graphic novels are) so I'd definitely recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

Next book I'm going to read:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien

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