© Media Watch 12 (1) 33-45, 2021
ISSN 0976-0911 | E-ISSN 2249-8818
Sequential Sadness: Metaphors of
Depression in Clay Jonathan’s Depression Comix
Sathyaraj Venkatesan & Arya Suresh
National Institute of Technology (Trichy), India
Graphic medicine embodies a nuanced understanding of illness about the undercurrents in the systems of healthcare and society. Depression narratives in graphic medicine, a conspicuous subset of mental illness narratives, work in tandem with the existing oeuvre of verbal narratives and move beyond them to deliver and map the disordered mind’s complexities. These graphic expositions inculcate an ethos often glossed over by biomedicine and, in so doing, validate the patient experience either for its universality or singularity. Reflective of the widespread attitudes towards the illness, Clay Jonathan’s Depression Comix (2011), a webcomic on depression, deals with the intricate inner lives of subjects belonging to a heterogeneous society. Depression Comix is a saga of telltale clues of depression covering the sufferers’ intrapersonal and interpersonal lives in elaborate ways. From an impersonal point of view, the author deftly employs conventional and innovative metaphors to concretize the mental conditions and emphasize the diversity of illness experience and its challenges as perceived by the general population. The use of metaphor, the article argues, accentuates, and facilitates the visual narration of illness as it concretizes the phenomenologically intense experience of depression. The present article revisits the theoretical postulates of George Lakoff, and Mark Johnson theorizes verbo-visual metaphors as deployed in Jonathan’s Depression Comix to delineate the representational, aesthetic, and figural aspects of depression.
Keywords: Graphic medicine, metaphors, webcomics, depression, pathographies
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Sathyaraj Venkatesan is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India. He is the author of five books and over eighty-five research publications that span African American literature, health humanities, graphic medicine, film studies, and other literary and culture studies disciplines. He is most recently co-author of Gender, Eating Disorders, and Graphic Medicine (New York/London: Routledge, 2020).
Arya Suresh is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India. Her research concentrates on graphic medicine, mad studies, and health humanities.
Correspondence to: Sathyaraj Venkatesan, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy, Tamil Nadu-620 015, India