marbles coverComics aren’t my usu­al thing, but I need to give Ellen For­ney her due.  I’ve just read her auto­bi­og­ra­phy Mar­bles, about the nature of cre­ativ­i­ty, bipo­lar dis­or­der, and her strug­gle to achieve bal­ance.  It’s a love­ly thing.  The book is a beau­ti­ful piece of design, with rich use of archival mate­r­i­al, broad vari­a­tion in style, and a strong sense of rhythm on the page.  Her gen­er­ous cre­ative pow­er makes an elo­quent case that, her own fears aside, mood-sta­bi­liz­ing drugs need not dry up an artist’s well­springs.  Tri­als and suf­fer­ing may make great source mate­r­i­al, but Mar­bles proves that one doesn’t need to remain a tor­tured soul to make great art.

I don’t know what the “fair use” con­ven­tions are for comics.  Nor­mal­ly in a review I’d quote pas­sages of less than a page, but it’s very dif­fi­cult to con­vey the sense of the work with­out look­ing at whole pages at a time— and often whole spreads.

This page gives a sense of the den­si­ty and approach char­ac­ter­iz­ing the more nar­ra­tive sec­tions.  It shows an ele­gant blend of inner and out­er dia­log, present and past tense.  Leit­mo­tifs are used to good effect.

marbles - pot And this is the most poet­ic, eco­nom­i­cal descrip­tion of a major depres­sive episode:

marbles - depressionThe inci­sive fun­ny-seri­ous min­i­mal­ism of it brings to mind xkcd.  And final­ly, here is a less tra­di­tion­al non­lin­ear decom­po­si­tion of the page into a sto­ry— it could stand per­fect­ly on its own:

marbles - arboretumA well-deserved Genius Award from The Stranger.

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