Posted 20 hours ago

It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth: This Book Is for Someone, Somewhere.

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Occasionally there will be an interesting part, like where she is terrified of tabling at a convention and then gets more comfortable with it, and she can draw really well, she just doesn’t do it often. The most helpful thing for me was reading Changing Our Minds, a lesbian feminist book critical of psychiatry and therapy. At times she doubts her own anxiety, characterising it as a performance and equating it with self-indulgence. The artwork is a messy jumble of styles; very little colour, and Goodnight Punpun-style simplistic heads on detailed bodies; full page spreads of crap and detailed panels interspersed with narration.

It feels like a clash between past and present, an identity crisis, and an infinite possibility scenario. She grows and gains perspective throughout the book, but her experience through the doldrums is always center stage.

I certainly connected with many of her anecdotes, but when I finished reading I felt like it didn’t actually share all that much? I really loved the mixed use of styles, and the « restart » down to including the publishing credits in the restart. Thorogood's "auto-bio-graphic-novel" feels personal and authentic, and makes no attempt to be self-effacing. I want to say that It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood is a bit quirky and unorthodox but it's just fascinating.

Look, I probably sound like an insensitive jerk criticising an autobiographical account of depression. Adverse child experiences around the self and creation socialized me in a way that will likely last for the rest of my life. There's no consistency to the artwork and while this does a decent job of reflecting the muddled mind, it had a rather nonsensical feel. One of the more disappointing trends I have noted over the last couple of years has been a degree of pushback from a small but vocal minority in regards to comics practice dealing with mental health awareness.

Which, at heart, is an early lesson on how art reaches out to hold your hand in moments of hardship. Because it is self-conscious about that too, with Thorogood following up bold statements like ‘ Reading a book, hearing a song, observing a painting—that’s connection. And I loved how meta and subsequently mind-boggling the book was, breaking through the fourth wall and talking about itself. Thorogood makes use of a number of avatars representing different periods of her life or different aspects of her personality, with her depression anthropomorphised as a constantly lurking, self-satisfied ghoul.

I don't know if she'll ever read this or not, but for anyone struggling with the feeling of wanting to stay alive, please reach out to someone, even a stranger. Instead she seems determined to try and form relationships with others based on a persona that seems to actively sabotage any chance of relationships ("Sorry for being weird"). But more importantly the metafictional aspects of creating and how we are in turn created through critical analysis in the minds of others. The art is the strongest part of the story, helping convey her very real and very scary thoughts of killing herself. This book is presented as an autobiography, and much of it is the author trying to find material to fill the book - and much of the material she finds is her own mental state.The art is fantastic, pivoting between styles and alternating between bright colors to black and white ink frames in a way that feels akin to the ups and downs of moods when struggling with depression. And her desire for identity, definition, self-discovery and self-understanding often tailing off into the bleakest nihilism.

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