Bonus #2: Graphic Novelist Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me

Comment on this post for Bonus #2 (see below).Forney Flyer

Bonus #2: Thur 3 Apr, 8 pm Marvin Center Amphitheater
Note: Before the event, you should read some excerpts from Marbles. There is one
on The, another  on, and yet another on

To earn your bonus, attend the event, take notes, and post 100-200 words here (adding comments to this post), discussing any aspect of how she uses the visual medium. Reply to the prompt below, but also to prior peer’s comments, carrying on a conversation.

How does Forney think about the relationship between the words and the images she draws, and how she composes them on the page? What do the visual elements say that words cannot (or not in the same way)? In other words, why is this a comic book (graphic novel) instead of a prose novel or memoir?



5 thoughts on “Bonus #2: Graphic Novelist Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me”

  1. Graphic novelist Ellen Forney starts off by giving an abbreviated version of her novel “Marbles”. Forney goes on to state she uses a visual medium to express her own biased feelings. She thinks through art, her thoughts are art. Her visual artistry allows her to also be able to think through the art of other people. What do the visual elements say that her words cannot? Words and pictures combined allow the reader more freedom to think. Lines of stories can be directly translated. So, by expressing her stories through a visual medium she allows the reader to make a connection and allow for a more personal interpretation and reflection. If you don’t share someone’s pain, you can never truly understand him or her. And just because you do understand them doesn’t mean you can fully come to an agreement. That’s the truth. The graphics used in her novel and presentation doesn’t completely bridge that gap, but they help paint a more vivid relationship between the thoughts in her head, life experiences and personal reflection, that the reader can relate to and learn from.

  2. The images in Forney’s “Marbles” compliment the bold black and white text that strikes the pages to accurately depict the creative, yet simultaneously confused, ideas that are racing through Forney’s mind. The words, which are presented in different fonts and sizes, are almost like images themselves, expressing different tones and adding more emotion to the dialogue. The variability in font also creates a sense of chaos and mania, which relates well to the book’s themes. Furthermore, the fact that “Marbles” is structured as a comic book adds humor to its otherwise sensitive topic of mental illness. When Forney was reading excerpts from her book, she used different tones to accompany her written words. Seeing as these tones are not present for the reader, the images substitute for narration. Overall, the combination of various text and images makes the pages crowded and abstract, just like her thoughts. Through this comic book, Forney seems to find a less structured way of expressing herself.

  3. She expressed three of her comic languages used in her book. What she used to express depression was a stark, somehow overexposed style. She used a goofy style to create an irony irony on all the medicine she took and the painful side effect she went through. The third one she used was to twist some already known icon. She used a broken light bulb to represent her memory problems. Visual language is a universal language and over the time people have already reached consensus on many of the elements used in comics. Comic is a softer way or a more indirect way to dig into her past. For her, she is now in a relatively stable condition to recall her past, but instead of expressing herself directly, she choose to make fun of herself. Not only is it more easy to accept by readers, but also shows that she has successfully overcome the dark periods of her life.

  4. I found the excerpt graphic novelist Ellen Forney read to the audience last night very comical, but also really insightful. For the time she read the excerpt, I felt like I truly understood the harships and struggles people diagnosed with bipolar disorder go through on a daily basis. Instead of simply telling the reader what its like, Forney is able to dictate these emotions through satirical comics, which almost alleviate the seriousness of the topic and add humor to it. The combination of text and simple artistry made such a complex disorder simple to someone who knows nothing of bipolar disorder or depression. I found her method of communication to be extremely touching and inspiring. Although the comics were scattered and a bit overwhelming, they were depictive of what Forney was going through, and I found that to be very effective.

  5. The methods in which graphic novelist, Ellen Forney, took to carry out her perspectives in Marbles were refreshing and innovative. She commenced the event by performing an abbreviated version of her graphic novel with entertaining gestures. Through this we understood her journey and how her book came about. At the end of the short performance she then started analysing the methods she used in her novel and the effect they carried. I found this aspect very enlightening, especially the way in which the layout carried and emotion. She defined what a comic is and the different layers that make it what it is today. She’s a fan of comics because it’s a universally understood language, she went on the use graphic examples (like a picture of a smiling face that says “i am happy” and a picture of a smiling face that says “i passed a test” and comics put this two together to create a smiling face and the text is “i passed the test”) and the brain makes that connection within seconds. Ellen Forney also alludes to how music in movies connotes a certain effect and she does the same thing with her comics (for instances where the situation is grave she uses professional texts and gloomy graphics and for more exciting instances she uses “goofy” graphics). Here various methods conveyed her emotions very effectively at every given time and is easily understandable by the prospective reader.

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