Written and illustrated by Nicole Bates
The Book: “Anxiety Me is a personal journey, my journey,” says Nicole. “When anxiety attacks it leaves you feeling like you are the lost at sea. Sometimes you find the shore, sometimes you don’t.
“This book explores the feeling I have when this happens. Let’s find the shore together this time..”
The Review: I make no secret that I get a lot of comics about the subject of anxiety to review. It’s currently running at about one a month. So when I received this review copy through from a podcaster that I liked and respected, I approached it with trepidation. I was worried that I wouldn’t like this comic as I find Nicole a thoughtful commentator on our little world.
Of all the subjects out there in the world, it seems that anxiety is one that is focused on an awful lot in 2018. It is undoubtedly both a real issue for some people and also a bandwagon that many may have climbed onto. The latter is clearly not true in this case.
So, I was pleased to say that of all the books I have read tackling this subject so far, Anxiety Me was the one that took both its subject and its artistic approach so seriously and so beautifully. The mostly wordless quality of the action and mood structure of the sequential antics of its (almost) only character are heartbreakingly real and yet soul soaringly enriching. A couple of the moments had me a little watery eyed I have to admit.
Admittedly, the art is brief and simply used on bleak white pages, but you sense that this is done with a purpose and reveals the implications of the feelings of being a little lost and alone, stranded in your own life. Our fractured connection with this brutal modern world has the majority of us feeling a little like this from time to time and this comes over perfectly. I can see some of the pages and images there as lovely art prints.
One small criticism is that a couple of the feelings that are communicated almost as floating text sound effects were a little bit unneeded, because the emotions are easily conveyed through the art. I can see this creator getting even better in the future.
I sped through this digital copy, always nervously needing to find out what happened to this girl and that she was safe. You feel a range of emotions as the character searches metaphorically through her life. Afloat alone in a rowing boat as we all feel in some way from time to time. It’s done with honesty and, most importantly for a comic, a sense of movement through the pages. The main female character wanders and searches and worries in real time for the reader.
I’ve heard Nicky say that she’s worried about putting herself out there. Revealing herself in and through her art. But isn’t that what all good art does? We get a sense of story and meaning but also a realisation or two about the soul of the creator. Nicky can be very proud of herself because even this old and grumpy reviewer felt touched by ‘Anxiety Me’.
This is a comic. Done well. It reaches out momentarily in the time you scan the pages to the reader and communicated something. And I can’t say better than that.
Many thanks for reading!
Art featured © Nicole Bates