Updated on 16 October, 2021
One of the most important things to realize when learning more about the mental health of yourself or a loved one is that even the most seemingly small change can lead to a more severe change. For example, did you know that even television commercials are produced and programmed by someone with a deep-seated desire to sell you a product? These advertisements for products like gasoline or cigarettes are so targeted because they have been specifically created to trigger our sense of impulse and as a result these products become objects of desire which causes us to experience deep feelings of depression. A good example of a depression comic can illustrate this point for you.
Have you ever read a stand up comedy that was loaded with funny yet relatable jokes that made you laugh yet simultaneously tugged at your heart strings in a way that made you feel like your mind was being controlled? There is an example of this in a depression comic that I like to call "The Night Before Christmas Story" by Tigard resident David Hallberg. This particular comic is dually relevant to current events yet it still managed to be relatable and funny. The title of the comic is a reference to the recent trend of families shopping for gifts before the Christmas season yet all of their purchases are last minute. In the midst of all of this, Santa Claus has just swooped in announcing that he will be coming to town yet a whole fleet of trucks are already parked in front of his house waiting to make their deliveries.
This is just one example but it illustrates the point that this particular comic was designed to make the reader feel that they understood what was going on yet still found themselves in a positivity that was not often found in such a situation. What I found most interesting however was the way that this particular comic managed to make the sadness and hopelessness of such a situation seem almost worth fighting for. The ultimate result of the depression part two is that the depressed person comes out feeling better yet is still filled with the self-satisfaction of having helped someone else. This is why this type of comic is so very effective as it creates the hope that things can get better and helps you to overcome any problems you may have.
The first depression comic I'll talk about was Kick Ass: Depression. The storyline follows the life of a young girl who barely manages to keep her family together as her mother is constantly being attacked by zombies. The reason that the comic is successful at portraying the feelings of a child going through a difficult time is that it manages to draw in the audience even though the subject matter is serious. The fact that the main character is a young girl makes this even more powerful as the audience is usually filled with teenage boys who can relate to the situation the girl finds herself in. It's not that the writer does not want to make the readers aware of the serious situation the girl finds herself in but instead it's more that the reader wants to see her succeed because she is depicted as a strong person who is trying to do the right thing.
Another great example of a comic that showcases how effective a comic can be at dealing with depression is Brighter Things. This five-issue miniseries follows a depressed person as she attempts to get her attitude back. What makes Brighter Things so great is that it shows the reader that not all people who are depressed are created equally and that there are plenty of ways for a depressed person to get his or her life back on track. In addition, the writer manages to combine the practical aspects of the story with a strong dose of humor throughout the miniseries. This allows the viewer to laugh at the characters while still feeling for them.
The last of the comics that deals with the subject of mental illness is called The Incredible Hulk by Rob Liefe. As you might guess from the title of the series, Liefe's take on the Hulk has a very pessimistic point of view. He rails against the media portrayals of people with mental illnesses and suggests that the public should be careful about jumping to conclusions when someone is deemed crazy. Unlike other examples of a depression comic that focuses on relatable feelings, The Incredible Hulk gives the character an unsympathetic viewpoint. Instead, Liefe takes a look at the negative stereotypes and viewpoints associated with mental illness. This helps to create a more realistic and relatable take on the condition.
While all three of these comics are great examples of depression comic books, they also serve as a counterweight to the far more popular Batman comic book series. After all, how many times have you seen someone in a Batman comic wearing a t-shirt with the words "stop smoking now" emblazoned across it? It seems as though those who are diagnosed with a mental illness are often pitied or put into stereotypical roles, rather than the strong, silent heroes we are taught to identify with. The Incredible Hulk and The Walking Dead are both strong examples of comic books that deal with depression in a realistic way and they also offer plenty of characters to root for because humanity is a wonderful, multi-dimensional, and flawed species. No matter which depression comic book you prefer, you are sure to find a title that is just right for you.
While you may be surprised by the depth and richness that depression can present in the world of comics, you will also be surprised at how little most comic books attempt to tackle this important topic. You should certainly explore depression in your own comics, but do not limit yourself to only superheroes. Be creative and experimental! When you reach for the skies, there is nothing holding you back from soaring.