Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (November 21, 2009) – Mental illness remains one of Western society’s greatest taboos. Those who suffer from various mental health disorders often suffer in silence, with very little support from society. Family members and other loved ones of those afflicted also suffer and are often forced to understand and cope alone. The loneliness, fear and frustration that this can cause is difficult for most people to understand. And this isolation can be far worse when you’re a child of a bipolar, schizophrenic or otherwise mentally ill parent. Von Allan, an Ottawa-based graphic novelist, has attempted to shed some light on this subject with the publication of his first full-length graphic novel, titled “the road to god knows…”
“My mom was diagnosed schizophrenic when I was quite young, maybe 11 or so,” said Allan. “She suffered a number of nervous breakdowns as I was growing up, as she battled, often very much alone, a disease that was slowly taking bits of her away. What I remember most vividly about this time was how confused and powerless I was. No one talked with me about what was happening to her and my mom was incapable of explaining it to me herself. I didn’t understand and that, combined with what I was experiencing, was really, really scary. There’s also odd feelings of guilt that go with this.
“Did I do something wrong? Did I somehow cause this?” I wrote and drew this book to shed some light on a very hush-hush topic and hopefully help others, especially kids but really people of all ages, realize that they aren’t alone and that they haven’t done anything wrong. And neither has the person who is suffering from mental illness.”
A unique aspect of the graphic novel is its availability in multiple channels. First, the book can be downloaded as a free PDF eBook on the artist’s website. In addition, a torrent version has been made available via LegalTorrents.com and the PDF is also available on Scribd.com. The graphic novel is distributed under a Creative Commons Canada licence that grants readers the ability to distribute the online versions of the book for free. “The toughest thing for new artists is just getting noticed. Obscurity, as Tim O’Reilly said, is the enemy and not piracy. By using a variety of online distribution tools as well as more traditional print publishing, I’m hoping people will give the book a try. And maybe it’ll get into the hands of someone who could really use it. The book is also available through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and can also be purchased in comic shops like Jim Hanley’s Universe in New York, Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz, Cosmic Monkey Comics in Portland, Strange Adventures in Halifax, and bookstores like Perfect Books in Ottawa and Librarie Astro in Montreal.”
“The road to god knows…” is the story of Marie, a teenage girl coming to grips with her Mom’s schizophrenia. As a result, she’s struggling to grow up fast; wrestling with poverty, loneliness, and her Mom’s illness every step of the way. At the start of the story, we see a scared young girl, uncertain and overwhelmed, but as her mom collapses into a full nervous breakdown, Marie is forced to examine herself and her life and come to a decision: does she continue to be a child, reacting to what’s happening around her? Or does she take control of her life, come what may?
“the road to god knows.” has an ISBN of 978-0-9781237-0-3, a suggested retail price of $12.95 US/$13.99 CDN and is 148 pages in length.
About Von Allan: Von Allan was born red-headed and freckled in Arnprior, Ontario, just in time for “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The single child of two loving but troubled parents, Von split most of his childhood between their two homes. Additional information about the graphic novel can be found at his website. Von Allen also has a webcomic called Stargazer will be launching in the very near future.