Sunday, 31 March 2013

Britten & Brülightly - a graphic novel by Hannah Berry

It was interesting to see the impact on the crowd when Hannah Berry quietly walked into the room at a Laydeez do Comics event and took a seat at the back. A trail of whispers followed her - Hannah Berry, Hannah Berry - I wonder if she knew the effect she had on everyone? Clearly she is held in high regard by comic and graphic novel creators (Laydeez do Comics attracts many of these people) and rightly so.

Britten & Brülightly is a wonderful read: quirky, dark and mysterious. The point of view of the illustrations swoops around the action and pokes into shady corners like a film noir camera and this style suits the murder / blackmail / revenge plot perfectly. Having said that I can't remember any film in that genre with anyone quite like Brülightly - I think it is worth getting hold of a copy of this book just to find out about this unusual character.

I must admit that I got a little lost in the storyline of Britten & Brülightly occasionally but it didn't matter, the strength of the imagery and characterization pull you through.

For a small taste of Hannah Berry's work go to her blog to download the first part of her new graphic novel Adamtine for free.

Breaking news! Britten & Brülightly #2 is underway. Go to Hannah's blog to read the synopsis.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Psychiatric Tales - a graphic novel by Darryl Cunningham

This book made me cry and on the back is described as harrowing so perhaps it has the same effect on others. You know that thing where an unexpected kindness can hit you quite hard, that is how it got to me.

As you might guess from the title the book is about mental illness - both from the perspective of the author's experiences as a psychiatric nurse and then later his own struggles. It is written with deep compassion and humanity. Simply told, each sentence is carefully crafted with drawings that powerfully reinforce the text.

I guess that whether or how this book might affect you will depend on your life experiences.

In October last year one of my cousins committed suicide. We are a family that stays in contact - I regularly receive news from or about everyone through to second or third cousins and beyond.

However I did not know this cousin particularly well. He was very close to a couple of family members but was reserved with most of the rest of us and had lived overseas for many years.

At the time it was difficult to explain how deeply his suicide affected me and I ended up feeling that I did not have the right to be upset. But then I read this sentence in Psychiatric Tales "the effects of suicide ripple outwards" and it goes on to describe how it intimately affects others - friends, family and strangers. It felt like I had been given permission to feel bad and I think this is something I needed to do.

As you can see the chapter on suicide affected me the most but all of the chapters are powerful and moving. It is an honest and compassionate book, I think that many people would benefit from reading it. It is also a wonderful example of the art of the graphic novel, I think part of its power lies in its form.