Monday, February 14, 2011

Psychiatric Tales; Darryl Cunningham

On my return flight from the ComicsPRO comic store retailer meeting in Dallas yesterday, I read Psychiatric Tales, one of two excellent graphic novels that came out last week. Psychiatric Tales is written and drawn by Darryl Cunningham and is subtitled Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness, which is exactly what this graphic novel is about, from an insider's perspective, as Cunningham, the cartoonist worked as a health care assistant in a psychiatric ward.

I do enjoy many escapist comic books and graphic novels of the super hero variety, but my very favorite kinds of sequential art productions are in the non fiction, autobiographical vein. So I knew that if Darryl Cunningham handled the subject matter of Psychiatric Tales in a thorough fashion, that this was going to be a book I was going to want to read. I'm happy to say that Psychiatric Tales exceeded my expectations and this will be a graphic novel that I'll be able to easily recommend for years.

Darryl Cunningham writes in his illustrated introduction: "Psychiatric Tales is intended to be a stigma-busting book. This is because fear and ignorance of mental illness remain widespread in society." I strongly believe that anyone who reads Psychiatric Tales will have a new understanding of the various kinds of mental illnesses that people have. I'm sure everyone knows or has known someone with a mental illness and reading Psychiatric Tales will make it easier going forward when this arises again in our lives (and yes, even depression is a mental illness, an ailment that a lot of even "normal" people experience to varying degrees).

Darryl Cunningham's art style as the interior page above shows, is minimalistic, but I think it perfectly communicates the subject matter of Psychiatric Tales. I especially was moved by Darryl Cunningham's last chapter, of which I'm not going to discuss, because I think it's better read not knowing what that last chapter is about, so with this in mind, please don't read the back of Psychiatric Tales when you look at this graphic novel.


Jason said...

Picked this up over the week end and I must say the depictions of the mental illnesses are very accurate. I think this was a great job by Mr. Cunningham. Thanks for the recomendation Ralph!!! -Jason O.

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