Graphics of Childhood and Depression

I think the most interesting thing about this story as a graphic novel is that it gives somewhat of a history lesson disguised within the Sunday comics. It’s not until the second half of the novel that we get to see Marji as an adult, so the first half documents the experiences of a child growing up among warfare. Being a kid, her view of the world is far more fantastic and magical, as though everything were make believe, and the context being in comic form captures that perfectly. For example, her relationship with God is shown by depicting him as a large bearded man that looks like a cross between Santa and Karl Marx who comes down and speaks to her in an extremely casual and comfortable way. Imagining God as a cartoon in this way, and also putting him at the same level as her, as someone that she can yell at, get mad at, and tell to “Go away” is a great way of representing her child’s mind. In fact, all of the stories of history that she learns from her books and from her parents are depicted in the same way, as though she were using GI Joe’s or Barbie dolls to act out historical events. I think the form of graphic novel for this text does a great job of interpreting the mind of a child understanding “adult” conflicts.

One of my favorite sections in the novel was the chapter titled “The Veil,” in which Marji suffers a dark period of depression, having lost her boyfriend, her money, and a place to live. When she returns home, she feels guilty for being so wrapped up in her own small dramas when the rest of the world, when her home country, when her family were suffering war. She walks through town and feels as though she were “walking through a cemetery…surrounded by the victims of a war I had fled” (251). I couldn’t help comparing this section in the novel to the blog called “Hyperbole and a Half,” whose last post was documenting the writer, Allie Bosh’s, bouts of depression. The blog uses written descriptions and (often hilarious) drawings, much like a graphic novel, to tell stories. In this blog post, titled “Adventures in Depression,” she explains how depression feels, and even illustrates the part of her that scolds herself for being sad for no reason. In fact, it’s a very accurate depiction of feelings of depression. Regardless, the use of graphics helps the narration of her experiences with depression similarly to how it helps Marji’s narration. She depicts her depression with dark images, small self-illustrations, and few words, characterizing a loneliness in the drawings. Not only can the graphics of the novel characterize child-like imaginings, but the visual depiction of feeling depressed.

 

Bosh, Allie. “Hyperbole and a Half.” Hyperbole and a Half. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/&gt;

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