I started this comic fairly spontaneously in September, 2011 although I had been mulling over the idea some time before. But the start was spontaneous, a bad day was had and the next day two new depression comix appeared. The initial response from the small group of people who were following my thinhline blog was positive, so I continued it in addition to my thinhline comic. Depression comix quickly became more popular than the thinhline comic (it was only a couple of months before the numbers of followers for depcom had surpassed thinhline; a couple of months later still the numbers were double that of thinhline). This prompted me to dedicate myself more to depcom, partly because it had more readers and partly was it was different enough from Sexy Losers or Thin H Line that it was much more interesting to do.
Things were going well but later that year, I hit a serious speedbump in the form of Hyperbole and a Half.
I hadn’t heard of the comic before then. Suddenly, I was nearly drowned in mails saying I should check out this blog, which I did. Because I was maintaining a page on depression-related comics naturally I was interested. So I read it, added it to the list, and went on creating comics about depression.
Of course, being out of touch with the scene for so long I didn’t realize what a news event the Hyperbole post was. It generated a number of articles and interest in the role of depression in webcomics. Occasionally depcom was included, but it rarely appeared without Hyperbole. Depcom seemed to get attention as a sort of afterthought in articles directed at Hyperbole.
When the second Hyperbole post appeared a year later, this didn’t help matters at all. In fact, I remember bracing myself for the impact, knowing that all I was going to hear for the next little while was about Hyperbole. I adjusted many of my ideas to avoid overlap, in fear that my comic would appear derivative of Hyperbole. I was doing depcom under the shadow of that blog, and I knew it. I had to resign myself to the fact that when people talk about depression and comics, depcom would not be the first name that would be dropped despite its focus.
Recently it has forced me to think about my own comic and what makes it different, and try to consider how to make those differences into stengths.
Allie Brosh’s work is truly wonderful. It’s a personal description of depression written with lucid and striking prose, and with art that is disarming because of its simplicity. She removes the heaviness through her wit and charm, making it easy to read and digest.
Thankfully, I started depcom from the idea that I wouldn’t be describing my own situation. I planned to draw a number of different characters with depression, to try to make it more about depression than a story with some characters. I think this approach helped in making it unique and relatable; it’s not about anyone in particular. It could be about anyone.
But another area where depcom departs is that Brosh’s depiction, like her regular blog entries, is done through a sense of childlike wonder. It doesn’t go into the darker territories of depression, such as how depression destroys relationships and drives one to suicide. Her story sticks with lack of energy and motivation, the self-hate, and anhedonia. The majority of those who suffer depression deal with this, and there are those like myself who go further down towards the destruction of all personal relationships and finally the destruction of oneself. To me, this is where I really want to communicate, as a sufferer, about why this path is so seductive and my own thought processes got so twisted up that I believed removing myself from the planet was the best thing I could do for it.
But also recently I’ve seen the comic as a way to help other people. To inform people of current research, to help people who have depressed people they love, and to help people who are depressed themselves. Recently I’ve added a page for those who need help, and have connected to Five Cups of Tea, a 24 hour chat support site with trained listeners. This is just a start, Iplan to do more.
But what I really want is to try to get out from under the shadow of Hyperbole. To be a site that not only informs but helps. This is the direction I plan to go in, and I hope I have your feedback to guide me.