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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me
Ellen Forney
Gotham Books, November 2012
241 pages

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Concerning: Cartoonist Ellen Forney’s confrontation with her bipolar disorder diagnosis
And: what it means for her identity as an artist
And: what it means for her creativity and her livelihood

Compelling questions explored:
“How could I keep track of my mind with my own mind?”
“Are bipolar disorder and creativity actually linked?”
“If I take meds to prevent mood swings, am I choosing to be less creative?”

Best cartoon words to describe the up-feeling of mania, when the mania seemed like a mostly good thing: “Krak! Dzzt! [….] Sproing!”
Evocative though less fun-sounding mania-related imagery: wheels churning, electrical currents, chomping at the bit

Moving description of a particularly low moment: “I had no sense of purpose. I felt like I was missing my skin.”
Hand-wringingly frustrating moment: Forney taking side effect medications for her side effect medications

Transformative (and possibly instructive) moment: Drawing accurate depictions of her feelings becomes a source of relief for Forney, as dark emotions transferred to the page seem less harmful—or, at least, loom less large
Also helpful: finding connection with and comfort from other artists and writers who dealt with mood disorders—William Styron, Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe, Sylvia Plath

A must-read for: anyone who has grappled with mood disorders
And: anyone interested in the nature of creativity
And: anyone interested in insightful stories told with honesty, pathos, and wit

Read: in one sitting
Then: read again