Ellen Forney has drawn ever since she can remember and has always been a storyteller. So, when, shortly before turning thirty, Forney was diagnosed withbipolar disorder, she knew someday she would tell her story in comic form. In this dazzling graphic memoir, she takes readers through the electric highs and dark lows of her journey and asks a powerful, provocative question: for artists, are mental disorders a gift or a curse?
Marbles is the story of Ellen’s struggle with her bipolar disorder and her fear that treatment could cause her to lose her creativity and her livelihood, all told in vibrant, graphic detail.
Finding inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers that suffered from mood disorders – among them Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Sylvia Plath -- Ellen explores the popular concept of the crazy artist to find out if it's a myth or a full-on way of life. Forney’s varied and bold, vivid artwork provides a completely fresh, visceral glimpse into the real-time effects of a mood disorder as the illustrations closely illuminate Ellen’s emotions. Marbles has a generosity of spirit and often reads like a letter from a friend, with a dark humor that keeps even the toughest parts of the story readable.
Forney has said, “This has been the biggest, most wrenching, most rewarding project I have done to date. The entire process was intense, squarely facing andtrying to make sense of the most difficult period of my life.” When Ellen was first diagnosed, she found company and comfort in, William Styron’s Darkness Visible and Kay Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind. The memoirs about mood disorders were tough to read, but also inspiring, and gave her hope. She hopes that by writing Marbles she can give back, and will give her readers the same comfort Styron and Jamison gave her.
Ellen’s journey from mania to depression and back again is not just a compelling personal story – it is a struggle waged by millions of Americans everyday; andincludes carefully researched information about the disease, the drugs associated and the many ways to cope. With bold, brilliant storytelling in the tradition of graphic memoirs like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Forney’s new work explores the fascinating relationship between “craziness” and creativity.
Ellen Forney collaborated with Sherman Alexie on National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and created Eisner Award-nominated comic books I Love Led Zeppelin and Monkey Food: The Complete "I Was Seven in '75" Collection. She teaches comics courses at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, where she has just won The Stranger’s Genius Award.