Ellen Forney’s ‘Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir’

The Seattle cartoonist takes readers on a journey through her own unquiet mind.

By Brian Colella October 8, 2012 Published in the November 2012 issue of Seattle Met

“I must say, Led Zeppelin therapy is still working best,” Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney confesses midway through Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me (Gotham, November 6), her graphic memoir about the four-year struggle after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The line follows the revelation that a drug prescribed by her doctor isn’t working. And when the doctor prescribes yet another med, Forney says, “I will imbue it with all my hopes and dreams.” The book is compelling not only for its intimacy but also for its depth of information and research, especially—and importantly for Forney the cartoonist—concerning the connection between bipolarity and art. Afraid that medication will destroy her creativity, she reads up on famous crazy artists (dubbed “Club Van Gogh”). She draws depression as a tiny, faceless figure that gets out of bed, moves to the couch, and falls asleep again; mania as a wave sweeping her away. Neither, she concludes, is something she can handle on her own. Ultimately, Marbles is inspiring not only in Forney’s coming to terms with her unquiet mind, but in her openness in sharing that journey. 

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