Fredrik Strömberg's Reviews > Psykiskt sjuk

Psykiskt sjuk by Mikael Sol
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** spoiler alert ** The second volume in Swedish artist Mikael Sol's ongoing quest to record his life in comics. This book starts where the former volume, Till alla jag legat med (To Everyone I've Slept With) ended, with Sol trying to take his own life and ending up in a psychiatric ward. What follows is a number of short stories, chronicling Sol's attempt at getting his life back together, flowing back and fourth between forays into often short, sexual relationships and quiet sessions with his new shrink. After a while, the story takes an unexpected turn, when Sol's father turn terminally ill.

The autobiographical comics of Sol resemble few others, as they are often presented in a form that looks like commercial comics, short episodes, often with a joke at the end and very iconic, "humorous" characters, at the same time as the stories have a serious content that clashes heavily with the "funny" form. The only real comparison I can come up with are the comics by another Swedish autobiographical artist, Simon Gärdenfors, which are clearly related. The autobiographically inspired Swedish comic strips Rocky by Martin Kellerman and Elvis by Maria and Tony Cronstam also come to mind, even though they have never been as personal/psychological in their depictions of the lives of their characters as have Sol and Gärdenfors.

There is much to like about this book. One important aspect is the very openhearted treatment of the subject of mental illness, which is still rather taboo in our society. There is of course nothing that says that this is all straight autobiography, but I see no reason to doubt the main themes of the book, which do nothing to hide the fact that Sol had a nervous breakdown and have had to use various prescription drugs to get by. The stories never take on the whiny, self-pitying tone that are so common in autobiographical comics, though, and are instead presented in a liberatingly humorous, satirical and self-deprecation style.

Another positive thing is the way Sol uses visual style to play with realities. Most often he is presented as an iconic comics character, but once in a while, when he manages to actually be frank and open with another person, the style changes and he is drawn much more realistically, indicating that he is aware that he often wears a mask, a persona, in front of other people. This gets really effective when he gets the message of his fathers illness, and his character slowly turns into more or less a scribble. Visual storytelling at its most effective.

The only thing I hold against this book, is that it feels more like the second volume in a continuing story about Sol, than a self-contained graphic novel. Now, I do not have anything against this, as I really like Sol's comics, and look forward to the next volume, but I felt a bit cheated somehow by the admittedly very personal and emotionally engaging end of the book.
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Reading Progress

October 9, 2014 – Started Reading
October 9, 2014 – Shelved
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: comics
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: format-graphic-novels
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: genre-autobiography
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: language-swedish
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: origin-sweden
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: theme-relationships
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: theme-sexuality
October 9, 2014 – Shelved as: theme-mental-disease
October 10, 2014 – Finished Reading

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