Paradox of Getting Better

Raven Lyn Clemens. Silver Sprocket, $12.99 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-945509-89-6

Clemens’s spiky debut features three freestyle pencil-drawn comics vignettes that track protagonist XXXX’s journey from severe mental illness to a still shaky but more balanced state. In the first segment, “Homewrecker,” the genderless XXXX, depicted as a triangle-shaped humanoid, makes an unplanned visit to their estranged family. The family tries to be supportive, but XXXX’s aggression escalates into a violent episode and things end badly. In “Moon School,” XXXX, who now has a human body with a triangular head, opens in seemingly better emotional condition, teaching misfit students “to prune and trim your flaws into something new and beautiful,” but the segment devolves into a major meltdown. Unexpectedly, the students rally around XXXX, offering comfort. “Goodbyes” finds XXXX alone in a space station, ruminating on their life and thinking more positively about family. Now drawn as more fully human, XXXX ruminates on coping skills: “Nowadays I try to find beauty in little things. It works sometimes.” Clemons’s surreal imagery and fantasy elements paired with deceptively simple, raw drawings capture the painful uphill struggle of recovery from mental illness with visceral impact and deep empathy. Readers will find this indie comics discovery a diamond in the rough. (June)
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