Cartoonist Tony Husband has released a short, poignant drama, “Joe’s Journey”, starring actor Tony Robinson, that aims to raise awareness about dementia, available to watch on YouTube, directed by Jason Read.
It’s the simple, charming but powerful story of a man who sets out to go and see his Mum for tea, to concern from his partner, played by Judy Matheson, and it’s soon clear he’s not at all sure how to find her… but has help in his quest.
Produced through crowdfunding with the support of a huge number of backers, the short film has earned plenty of well deserved praise from those coping with, or supporting those dealing with dementia.
“Our film came from a cartoon storyboard I did about a chap called Joe who is living with dementia and goes on a journey to see his mum,” Tony explains.
“Whilst one can understand the concerns carers might feel when they see someone who is a little confused leaving the house,” notes a spokesperson for Innovations in Dementia in a comment about the film, a support organisation that has itself released a number of short “Deep Moments” films about dementia through its Dementia Creatives initiative.
“Joe’s experiences of kindness and understanding are probably closer to the reality of most similar expeditions, rather than the death destruction and mayhem which we are routinely invited to believe will follow as naturally as night follow day. Lovely work.”
“Beautiful film and so well scripted and acted, says one viewer with direct experience of the difficult health issue, which it’s estimated affects some 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, more than ever before. (Due to the gradual nature of dementia, the mild early-stage symptoms and the low diagnosis rate, it is difficult to know the exact number of people living with the condition).
“The loving protective family shows how best to support someone,” the viewer continues.
“We lost my husband’s grandmother to Alzheimers decades ago. We brought our infant son to see her when she could still speak, and she thought he was her own baby son (our son’s grandfather.) Her delight to see and hold a baby, her baby, helped take our pain away a little. Thank you for making this film.”
Campaigning for Dementia Awareness
Declared by actor Michael Palin as “consistently one of the funniest cartoonists around”, Tony Husband, who has been cartooning since 1984, is best perhaps best known for his “Yobs” strip in Private Eye. He co-founded and co-edited Oink! comic and has more than 40 books published, many taking a satirical look at a wide variety of subjects and obsessions such as football, animal husbandry and Yorkshire puddings.
A dedicated campaigner of raising awareness about dementia, he received critical acclaim for his telling of the story of his father’s dementia, Take Care, Son, and has also created From A Dark Place: How A Family Coped With Drug Addiction, a comic book about his son’s journey through drug addiction.
He and the poet Ian McMillan regularly tour the UK with their show A Cartoon History Of Here, an evening of live, improvised poetry and cartoons – a project that has now resumed.
“Raising awareness of dementia is a passion for me and this little film is all part of that process,” says Tony.
“Thank you to director Jason Read and the wonderful cast and crew and to all those who helped raise funds for us to make the film.”
Talking about his book, Take Care, Son, back in 2018, Tony explained in an interview that the book came about shortly after his father, a dementia sufferer, had passed away.
“[I] was sat in my studio after a long day of deadlines. I started thinking of him and just asked him what it was like to have dementia… he replied! So l had a conversation with him and drew on 4 x A4 pages our conversation.
“Whether it was dad, my imagination or the bottle of Rioja l’d opened, it worked. I showed my friend Stephen Fry the pages and he asked if he could tweet them – and if my system could take 12 million hits – and he did. It went viral and a publisher emailed and asked if l would like to create a book from the pages.
“I think as with all illnesses of the mind, people struggle to understand or deliberately avoid understanding because it’s what they fear the most. That’s why I’m so proud of my book and the fact it’s helping raise awareness of dementia… There are some amazing people working so hard to help people understand more.”
I Think I Know It’s You
Joe’s Journey isn’t the only dementia project Tony has been involved in recently. He’s also provided cartoons for a Flying with Dementia project, launched last week, produced by the University of Plymouth in partnership with Heathrow Airport, new guidance to support passengers with dementia through air travel.
He’s also worked with international troubadour Sean Taylor on a collection of songs about dementia to support the campaign #JustOneHour, a campaign asking every caregiver in the UK to sign up to pledge to provide at least one hour a week of meaningful music for individuals livings with dementia. The project aims to spark a cultural change in dementia care through music.
Tony has co-written all the songs, which feature a collective of different musicians, including Steve Milton, Jason Read, Mal Troon and Mark Hallman). One of their recent releases is “I Think I know It’s You”.
You can also purchase the song here.All proceeds from this project go to Musica Music and Wellbeing CIC, a community interest company specialising in dementia care.
The MOJO App
The film’s credit sequence includes a mention for MOJO, a 360° dementia support system for families, a new portal and app to connect everyone involved from the grandkids up, for families who support a loved one with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Vascular or other dementias
MOJO connects all those involved in the care of a loved one through an engaging and user-friendly portal. The team behind the app have developed innovative tools to help manage treatment, and imaginative technology to create moments of joy even in difficult situations.
• Tony Husband is online at www.tonyhusband.co.uk – but note some of his web site is Flash driven and requires a browser such as Puffin to be viewed on mobile devices
“Joe’s Journey” – Credits
Written by Tony Husband
Music & sound mixing – Jason Read
Sound recordist – Tomo Davies
Directed, shot & edited by Jason Read
With thanks to to Ian Ellery for the heads up
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.