Drawing is often used as a way to distract oneself from physical or mental anguish. It’s used in the rehabilitation units of various hospitals and community centres and our Draw 14 opener Andrew Marr, published his “A Short Book About Drawing” which explained how drawing helped him recover following a stroke. Georgia Webber’s drawings in her series Dumb explore her struggle with unexplained voice loss.
Webber’s comics belong to the increasingly popular genre of personal medical journey works. Doctors dealing with paediatric epilepsy have been using David B’s “Epileptic” (L’Ascension du haut mal) in order to explain seizures to families for years. In this vein Matila Tristram’s “Probably Nothing” confused bookshops everywhere by blurring the boundaries between graphic novel, pregnancy guide and cancer advice. Tristram’s comic was written in short notes during her pregnancy and cancer treatment, when the ending was unknown (thankfully it was a happy one with a healthy baby boy and an all clear). With the immediacy of social media and our culture of sharing every moment, drawing offers a chance to reflect on the situations we find ourselves in.
In Dumb Comics we’re taken along on the journey, where, like when Tristram wrote her strip, the ending is unknown.
Georgia began drawing as a child, working for hours on end and complaining the her parents that she didn’t have enough time to draw. This work ethic has stayed with her and she manages to squeeze a large amount into her days. I asked her a few questions about her practice:
Have you found the combination of drawing and writing about your experiences more helpful than simply writing?
Writing is great, but it’s limited. Drawing is great, but it’s limited. The combination of writing and drawing has under-appreciated power that I’m just beginning to explore, and it’s been thoroughly healing in my experience of injury and recovery, of understanding myself and how to communicate my insides with others.
Images are deeply evocative, so I love how immediate it is. But it’s also something that I find gives away the creator in so many ways they don’t expect — for example, how I draw myself tells you an awful lot about how I feel about myself, about storytelling, about what’s significant and what can be left out. I don’t mean for it to tell you these things, but I have no choice; I’m creatively working with what ability I’ve got.
What advice would you give to other people who are thinking about drawing their stories?
I’d say you have to do it to discover how YOU do it. There are many great ways to convey a story, and trying to be like the people you admire is a great start, but ask others to help you shape your work, as them what they see in it and what needs improvement. It’s the best way to find the ways you’re revealing yourself in it, and which parts are unnecessary detours from your voice and your idea.
The rest of Dumb Comics are set to arrive in the UK in July 2015. For more information about Georgia’s work http://georgiasdumbproject.com/