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Making the Invisible Visible – Mental Health in Comic Form – Book Reviews 

Today I want to talk about three cartoon/graphic books that each explore the experience of mental health. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot and Night Shift by Debi Gliori. 

The first two books don’t only share bright yellow covers but have a similar style with rather unusual looking characters. The images in Hyperbole and a Half are in colour whereas It’s All Absolutely Fine contains line drawings in black on white. 

I’m pretty sure you will have seen Allie Brian’s images shared as memes on social media. Two chapters within the book focus explicitly on Depression although other topics such as Dogs are also covered. This is a funny book with a good balance between the images and textual story linking them. 

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot (RubyETC) I only know about because of YALC this year and I picked up a signed copy. Every now and then there is some prose discussing the images in that section with the images then left to their own devices. This is much more ‘individual comic image’ style. I found her prose particularly insightful though. 

Night Shift is different to the other two being more poetic in nature. It’s a beautiful midnight blue clothbound hardback and the images inside are muted greyscale with the very occasional flash of colour. 

It is a story of depressive episodes that uses the metaphor of a dragon as a formidable opponent. Debi both wrote and illustrated the book and in one picture even talks about the difficulty of using words to describe the experience. Her combined use of words and images are a powerful exploration of thoughts and feelings as well as reminder of how episodes might start. 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my own experiences with depression before. These three books each spoke to my experience. Not perhaps all of it because we are each different but aspects definitely helped me to feel less alone and that there are others that get it. 

Each book also includes little hints at hope and recovery/living with.

Two are more comic comics, one is more melancholic but beautifully illustrated and perhaps slightly more real. But also maybe one to read when you are feeling stronger and ready to fight your dragons. 

Please note I was provided with a copy of Night Shift from the publisher Hot Key but all opinions are my own. 

Creating a Love Nest

The first of the textbook chapters I’m going to share with you is ‘Creating a Love Nest’ from Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit [This should be viewed as Harry Potter fan fiction].

Creating a Love Nest

Breeding dragons requires a male dragon and a female dragon to become intimate with one another. Now as a breeder you don’t really need to know the details of this intimacy – if there are any problems it is best to call in the assistance of an experienced dragon veterinary sexpert.
Your role is to create the perfect love nest and this chapter outlines how.

Male dragons and female dragons although both the same species are very different when it comes to their requirements and preferred environments. I’ve outlined these differences below.

• Males like a cool environment, while female dragons tend to feel the chill and like to create a nice roasting fire.
• Males like a sparse environment with only what is needed on display, females like to have pretty flowers, twigs and shiny treasures decorating the nest.
• Males like solid, firm flooring, females prefer something softer which allows for gathering for further warming.
• Males like basic colours: green and brown, females like to see a bit of variety with yellows and reds being a firm favourite (this makes dragon breeding season autumn).

So, how do you create the perfect love nest? Well lady dragons are the dominant of the species so make the nest to fit her specifications and the male dragon will have to make do with a window to stick his head out of to cool down. You’ll make him his own nest to his requirements but the female dragon’s nest will be bigger and it will be where the breeding happens. That is just how it is.

If you want high quality dragon eggs make the female’s nest as glittery as you can – add gold, silver and precious jewels, The more of these you dot round the floor, walls and ceilings the stronger the offspring. Tests have been conducted on average flame distance and the only consistent variable, in ensuring this was as destructive as possible, was bling.

A female's nest example, the male dragon has even dressed the same! Image 'Dragon Roof' courtesy of cbenjasuwan /

A female’s nest example, the male dragon has even dressed the same!
Image ‘Dragon Roof’ courtesy of cbenjasuwan /


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