Look Straight Ahead

Elaine M. Will. Alternative Comics/Cuckoo’s Nest, $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9918669-0-8
Although fictional, this story of a young man’s breakdown and subsequent institutionalization captures the experience of mental illness and the slow path of treatment. Jeremy is a loner at school, with a crush on his friend’s girlfriend, general insecurity, and insomnia. Then things spiral out of control. An early sequence of his drawing, which descends into his own visions, is both startlingly accomplished cartooning and a disturbing foreshadowing of what’s to come, as Jeremy succumbs to his illness. He starts having hallucinations, and after he fights back against school bullies, he’s sent to treatment. Art plays two significant roles in this graphic novel. It shows us the state of Jeremy’s mind, portraying his view of reality. But art is also how Jeremy expresses himself; it’s the physical representation of his fear that treatment will change who he is and what he can create. It’s a perfect story for comics, since Jeremy’s altered states can be shared with the reader by the way the panels fracture before disappearing, indicating his loss of self. The spot color makes his illusions seductively attractive. Will won a Xeric Grant for the story, which originally appeared online. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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