Rating: 3.5/5 – Thoughtful Anthology of comics about Depression
I cannot think of a comic book format that splits the crowds quite like the anthology. I know some feel they set an impossible task by mixing so many different stories and collaborators there is no one reader that will find all the chapters enjoyable. I usually tend to like them as I think the short comic story is an underutilized format and there is something about all the differences coming in quick succession that has a cumulative effect that can sometimes exceed the sum of its parts. But I acknowledge that no one will appreciate every story equally. Recognizing these factors and my own bias, I tucked into Kinds of Blue, an Australian anthology with creators with whom I was not previously familiar.
The uniting theme allows for a smooth flow to this anthology. The “words” credits for the vast majority of the stories is Karen Beilharz, with Guangyao Un contributing to two and Rebecca Lee doing a complete story by herself (along with contributing on art to a few others). Depression seems an apt topic for comic books as it allows a variety of visual interpretations. There is one text piece but the rest is all comics. Like everyone, I get down from time to time, but luckily I am not afflicted with depression so I approach the topic as an outsider. There are two pieces in particular that dealt with friends of people with depressions and I found the final story to be particularly compelling, A friend in Need by Beilarz and Jemima Trappel. For me, those pieces had the most resonance but it seems unfair to task any piece of art with the duty to transport such a complex condition as depression. The cumulative effect of the successive stories and the order they were placed were well done. Beilharz selects contrasting art styles to be next to each other, presumably to not only help separate stories of a similar vein but also to blunt any one reader’s distaste for a particular story or art style. The anthology ends with a selection of helpful resources and a summary of the contributors which I would like to see more anthologies do.
I think this is definitely a good choice for people who want a little more meat in their comics. These short stories are there to transport the experience of depression in a compressed space which is no little thing. Ordinarily a full length comic/graphic novel has the space to allow you to understand the characters which in turn allows you time to empathize with their situation. Here we have a quick dive into the deep end that provides fuel for thought. If you ONLY like your comics to be escapist adventures of larger than life characters, this will likely not be for you but I found the book had much to offer.
Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – firstname.lastname@example.org
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