“Marbles by Ellen Forney is a beautiful, heart wrenching, positive, affirmation of life.”
Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir seems to have burrowed under my skin, and it continues to live with me each day, coloring my conversations, and subtly hijacking my thoughts. We aren’t talking about an obsessive fascination here, but more of an eye opening, I want to share this experience, kind of compulsion.
Marbles is an autobiographical account of Ellen Forney’s life as she is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and subsequently, how her life as an artist is affected by this diagnosis. The fear is that the treatment of this disorder could adversly affect her creative process. If art is your life, the prospect of losing your creativity would be terrifying.
The book moves through years of Ellen’s life. We are privy to all the ups and downs. We learn about the many prescription drugs, and some of the non-prescription ones. Along with Ellen we discover a history of the suffering artist, from Van Gogh to O’keefe. The amount of educational material woven into this book is surprising, and while it may seem like a dull prospect in theory, the reality is, it works. In discussing Marbles with others, it’s been those details which seem to surface the most, spurring on the debate, or simply texturing the conversation.
This is an unblinking portrait. Forney is honest from start to finish. She chooses to share her most intimate and often humbling moments with us, good or bad, right or wrong. I think it is this brutal honestly that made me root for her. I may not agree with her choices, but I wanted to see her prevail. I found courage in her battle. The truth is, we become so caught up in our own lives, in our own problems, we tend to forget that those around us are struggling too, and there is comfort in the knowledge that we aren’t alone.
On the surface, Marbles is your stereotypical, autobiographical, artsy, graphic novel. It has all the characteristics, including the traditional black and white, angst filled, artwork, courtesy of the incredibly talented Ellen Forney. Beneath the surface waiting to be discovered, is a beautiful, heart wrenching, positive, affirmation of life, and I am a better person for having read it.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir
By Ellen Forney
Excerpted from MARBLES by Ellen Forney. Copyright (c) 2012 by Ellen
Forney. Reprinted by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin
Group (USA), Inc.