Rethinking Mental Illness: How Creating Comics helped artist Darryl Cunningham 

Darryl Cunningham at Glasgow Comic Con 2015

Darryl Cunningham at Glasgow Comic Con 2015

Darryl Cunningham, author of the brilliant Psychiatric Tales and Supercrash, is featured on the Rethink Mental Illness blog, talking frankly and positively about how creating comics helped him through difficult times.

Rethink Mental Illness aims to help millions of people affected by mental illness by challenging attitudes, changing lives.

Psychiatric Tales Expanded Edition CoverDarryl was training to be a mental health nurse when his own depression and anxiety meant he had to give up his studies. He started to draw his experiences, aiming to create comics which would help people understand mental illness. As regular readers of downthetubes know, the comics became a huge sucess, and were eventually published as a book, Psychiatric Tales.

“All through the time I’d been working on the wards I’d been keeping a diary, with a vague idea that the material would make a book someday,” he writes. “I began to draw up these events into comic strips, posting them online on my blog, and on Open Diary, and LiveJournal.”

The strips look at common mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and attempt to explain and de-stigmatise them – and the positive response to his work eventually led to publication by Blank Slate in the UK, Bloomsbury in the US and Canada, and there have since been French and Korean editions, too.

“I would say that drawing these strip have changed my life for the better,” says Darryl. “… So I would say if you suffer from depression then anything creative will be good for your mental health.”

Darryl will be speaking about comics and mental health at a free event in Leeds, organised by Thought Bubble on Wednesday 11th November. Click here for details.

The article is a smashing little read, and if you’ve ever struggled with inner demons as a creator, or know someone with mental illness, it’s an uplifting read that includes some examples of Darryl’s Psychiatric Tales work.

Darryl has recently been enjoying huge and dwell-deserved success with Supercrash : How to Hijack the Global Economy, published by Myriad Editions. He’s one of the speakers at Post Capitalism 2015 this coming Friday in Leeds, a symposium to re-think crisis, culture and politics at Leeds Beckett University, organised by Dr Katy Shaw and featuring Paul Mason (Economics Editor, Channel 4 News), Dr Stephen Kinsella from the University of Limerick, Professor Alex Nunn of Leeds Beckett University, Dr Peter Knight from the University of Manchester and Professor Nicky Marsh of Southampton University.

Supercrash has been translated into French, Dutch and Greek, and Korean and German editions are in progress.

Read Darryl’s article here on the Rethink Mental Illness web site

• Click here to make a donation to support the work of Rethink Mental Illness offering help and hope for people affected by mental illness

• More about Darryl’s work on his blog: http://darryl-cunningham.blogspot.co.uk | You can follow him on Twitter on @acmedarryl

Read my review of the original edition of Psychiatric Tales here

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. 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 “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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