Mental Health and Comics: Workshop

by Dr Davis on August 9, 2014

9Worlds GeekFestMeg John Barker, Caroline Walters, Joseph de Lappe
Friday afternoon

Intro:
Not a safe space. Respectful space, though.
Looking at more than us. You can just think about it.

History of the workshop:
did a workshop last year
Joseph not able to be here. He knows history of mental health and comics…

topics we plan to cover:
favorite depictions
problematic depictions
history—have things improved? mainstream v indie?
web and online comics
humor and mental health (key issue for comics)
reading comics in terms of mental health
making comings for mental health
romantic (madness) v literal/realistic view –villainy and madness

favorite depictions:
Alison Bechel– Are You My Mother? (psychoanalytic, too old school in models?)
cuts through how scary and confusing the discussion can be
writing a chapter of her life that isn’t finished yet
has meta elements to it
difference between what she saw helpful and what people talk about
Phone Home (easier to write because parent still alive)

Hyperbole and a Half –depression

Marvels: Mania, Depression, Michaelangelo, Me experience with bipolar, therapy and medicine, “neat” memoir, things were really bad and then magically things are better—very different, rooted in medical model

Psychiatric Tales Darryl Cunningham
1st half as a nurse
2nd half from his own experience
adheres to scientific model in first half

? Is it appropriate for “happily ever after” ending?

hierarchy of bad depictions of mental health
mental health villain worst
mental health for humor bad
mental health over/ended well (not good but not bad)
The Tale of One Bad Rat recovery experience—negative experience, but valuable too

Calling Doctor Laura: A Graphic Memoir queer woman living in Portland, complex relationship with does she have a father, radio show program, very fuzzy endings, very fuzzy complicated relationships, basically more like life, reading about her experience, make all this progress and then go backwards

lots of queer comics dealing with mental health

Shade the Changing Man by Peter Milligan man super-hero, uses power of madness, unreliable and vague superpower, early example of queer relationship

madness powers homes (like nuclear installations)

very far out on the romantic end, but has elements that seem to link it back to realism

persepolis french movie posterPersepolis
survivor of revolution in Iran and homeless and refugee
her mental health issues dealt with realistically

Hyperbole and a Half This is the one that most closely mirrored my own experience of depression. Casually wants to leave life, but others are hanging on to their lives trying to survive.

Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind B. Penfold
very much about relationship and alcoholism and his kids

iconic figure—obviously crazy Joker, but Batman’s got some problems too
Iron Man 3 gets PTSD
masculinity
expectations on men and PTSD

green lantern batmanBatman’s foes keep going into asylums.
New Batman more “realistic” and beaten down with those who fight him.
Harlequin arguing with Batman. Why are you not spending time with me? I had a bad day, too.
Batman took them to the asylum.
Having a superhero taking responsibility for the people that fight them.
Flash had a comic strip about one of his villains coming up to him in a bar and saying thank you for the money because I had not been able to take my meds.

Batman and Joker once have a discussion. Batman says “We come from the same place.” Joker says, “I’ve gone too far.”
polar opposite ways of dealing with things
Two-Face as a character. in Arkham City they are trying to break him…
dice, playing cards, tarot cards

female superheroes who are also survivors
particularly bad, female ninja –rape survivor—very exploitative comics
Elektra

mental illnesses of being sexy, Bitch

favorite Two-Lip severe history with addiction, drugged and raped by one of the other characters
Preacher lots of sex and violence, Two-Lip O’Hare

comic panels can be amusing while being bleak

American Elf spent 10 years re-drawing these four panels
anxiety how it influences life
all online

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman Despair and Delirium
quit reading because mental health used “unrealistically”
in the 1990s presented mental illness in extremely simplistic ways

Gaiman’s his serial killers are well developed, “you’re all a bit delusional”

Despair in Endless Nights goes into some depth
–15 depictions of Despair, better
–really just an impression of what their worlds are like

Delirium was the crazy teenagers of the 1990s; helped me cope with that

One of the values is that it gives people who don’t have a depiction, even romantization, works importantly because gives young people who haven’t had any image to engage with for their lives.

Kaye Redfield Jamison An Unquiet Mind
not a comic, but a psych worker writing about personal mental illness

American Captain Captain America’s psych treatment.
The person who makes it clearly knows, but there is something… Diagnosing a separate character with a mental illness.

Maus is totally the son’s way of dealing with his parents’ PTSD.

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