Graphic Novel Review 252/365: Swallow Me Whole

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #365GN on Twitter.

Hey, all! I have some cool things coming your way in March, so make sure that you are checking back every day. I appreciate you for reading.

Today I bring you an amazing title about growing up with mental illness from the artist of the March book series.

Title: Swallow Me Whole

Author(s): Nate Powell

Publisher: Top Shelf (2008)

Age Rating: 17+

Published in 2008, Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole won the 2009 Eisner for Best Graphic Novel.  Tackling subjects like mental illness and dysfunctional families, considering the trends in graphic novel publishing, this graphic novel was ten years ahead of its time.

And while you might know Nate Powell for his art in the best-selling March series, you need to go back and explore some of his other work because Powell is a artist that is sculpting on the page like no one else.  Powell’s use of black on the graphic novel page is breathtaking.  He knows how to punctuate a scene or a moment with black background or splash page.  His use of white space is as amazing.  I don’t know of a better black and white graphic novelist than Nate Powell.  Each one of his books is a lesson in the juxtaposition of light and dark.  And in many of his books, the clean cut between black and white is either an understated metaphor or a blatantly obvious one.  Sometimes, we have to understand that the gray areas are not that evident.

This particular work deals with family relationships with a focus on a pair of high school aged siblings and their mental health issues.  It’s no doubt that the graphic novel medium is a proper avenue for this subject matter.  Images convey feelings that can strike harder, and at times quicker, than the written word.  And as someone that has dealt with low levels of OCD and anxiety, I can say that Powell does capture the struggles of personal mental battles exquisitely in this book.

I encourage you all to give this award-winning graphic novel a read, and while you are at it, check out more of Powell’s work; he is a modern master.

Happy reading!


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