Today, a new graphic novel review and post from guest blogger, Francisca Goldsmith:
Graphic novels form one, muzzy edged slice of the sequential art pie. Comic strips, serials, and web comics also share this pie. The Next Day, a project undertaken by researchers, the National Film Board of Canada, and artists and technicians who know both the power of the simple line and the benefit of interactivity to connection, explores the scary realities that can bring young people to contemplate, and attempt, suicide, and then what happens when they live beyond the attempt. You’ll be able to access this interactive project online at http://interactive.nfb.ca/#/thenextday very soon. In the meantime, consider all the reasons why it’s important to ask the questions: What if the million young (and older) people who commit suicide annually had lived? What happens to some of the 20 million who attempt suicide but wake up the next day?
John Porcellino, who has been self publishing King-Cat Comics for years, brings the insights of his own Buddhist-inspired and web-savvy life to showing us the paths taken by four suicide survivors. He’s the right man for the job of showing us these stories because his approach honors the black and white outlooks suffered by many who are depressed, without condescending to either over-dramatize or undervalue the flaws and flagrant abuses at others’ hands that send some young people onto that road from which there may be no turning back. Like the coming web home for the project, the book allows the reader to choose her own route through the stories, whether to concentrate on comparing the four individuals or following one specific one from youth, to the day before the attempt to the years after. And there can be years after. The Next Day project doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties required to face and overcome to get to those years; instead, it shows that others—who may be very much like you—have managed to get there.
Adult/High School–Porcellino, whose long-running self-published “King-Cat Comics” have been running successfully for years, is just the right artist to put simple but not simplistic images to the stories of four individuals who have tried to commit suicide. Chantel, Tina, Ryan, and Jenn are each in their third decade and all share how they tried to end their lives, how the trouble began in their childhoods, how they had coped with depression before the attempt (or attempts), and the aftermath of surviving the attempt. Each story unfolds juxtaposed to the other three stories, so that readers meet each of them just before the attempt, then witness all four attempts, and so forth. Because of the straightforward narratives and art, this is an enhanced way of making the points about depression, failed coping mechanisms, despair, and ultimate reassertion of life. The book feels intimate as well as accessible, making it a perfect selection for teens who want to understand the topic of suicide or suicidal feelings in others. The book is part of a larger project created by the Film Board of Canada, with an online component as well, but it stands strong alone.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA