I have to admit that I don't really have either the patience or the focus necessary to read for too long in front of a computer screen. However, browsing deviantArt one night, I stumbled upon the following pages...
...and I thought "wow, that looks great! but what is that guy doing out in the snow like that? Hmmm, let's see what this is about...", and couldn't stop reading page after page until I reached the end of the story (100+ comic pages). It was a long night, and I ended up thinking I had just read one of the finest comics I've come across in a long, long time, and it is available to read in this very website.
The comic is Look Straight Ahead, which is written and drawn by Elaine Will, dlmx-13 here at deviantArt.
Jeremy Knowles is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist. But when he suffers a severe mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school, his future is called into question - as is his very existence! Can he survive the experience through the healing power of art? And just what does it mean to be "crazy," anyway?
I'm a bit tempted to tell you about some of the scenes from the comic, and filling this journal entry with a lot of the awesome comic pages that make the story, but being someone who would many times skip the introductions and jump right into the story, I'll try keeping it short, so I'll just say:
-Despite being the story of a young kid dealing with mental illness, it is not a depressing story.
-Mental illness seems to me like a very hard subject to tell a story about, but the author has this great talent to portray Jeremy's struggles in such a honest way, that while I'm not an expert on the subject, I couldn't help but getting the impression that dlmx-13 made a fantastic job of introducing its subject matter to those, as myself, without special knowledge.
-While I believe this is dlmx-13's first graphic novel, it doesn't seem to me like someone's early work, but the work of someone who masters the medium she has choosen to tell the story. Whenever handling a scene such as a conversation, or something more on the surreal side of things (such as Jeremy's hallucinations), each page is unique, and displays awesome storytelling.
-The synopsis mentions the healing power of art, and this is actually my favourite thing about this comic, but I think it'll be much better if you find out for yourself, by reading the story...
This is a work that took years to complete, and I can't help but thinking what a monumental task the author set for herself (and not just by the length of the book), but she eventually achieved her goal, and the result is a wonderful book which does not only shed light on a complicated subject, but more importantly, it's a very entertaining read.
Look Straight Ahead has been collected in a print edition, which you might be able to find at your local comic-book shop (here's a list with the stores where the book is available), or it can be ordered online as well. And if you cannot purchase a copy at the moment but are interested in reading it, no worries, it can be read online at Elaine's website, or at her deviantArt gallery.
Thanks for reading!