Art of Psychiatry Society


Graphic novel reviews
March 27, 2011, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Comics

Hate No. 24 by Peter Bagge review by Greg Neate

With its enduring depiction of Seattle’s ‘grunge’ culture, the 1990s serial comic Hate benefitted by association with its location during its first 15 issues. However, when the suburban, slacker everyman, Buddy, returned to live with his family in New Jersey for the next 15 issues, Hate’s slapstick and tragic dynamics expanded to include three generations struggling to live the American dream and with each other.

Psychiatry features most directly in issue 24 when Buddy insists his emotionally unstable girlfriend, Lisa, sees ‘a shrink’ after her latest ‘irrational’ outburst. More of Hate’s stock-in-trade counter accusations follow; ‘You’re the one that’s crazy, not me!’, before Lisa attends a male Freudian analyst and then a female, cognitive therapist. Both are professional but tied to their ‘agendas’ and ultimately unable to overcome her lack of purpose. As Buddy and Lisa drive home after a final revealing joint session, Lisa impulsively suggests they have sex. An exasperated Buddy succumbs and their ‘love’ continues, though this time the reader is spared one of Hate’s graphic displays of tension obliterating intercourse. GN

Issues 1-15 of Hate are collected in Buddy Does Seattle (2005) and 16-30 in Buddy Does Jersey (2007) both published by Fantagraphics Books.

Gregory I-IV by Marc Hempel review by Greg Neate

While comic book characters commonly have ‘funny’ shaped heads, Gregory is unique for depicting a mentally disordered, straightjacketed boy whose vocabulary is limited to grunts and shouting aloud his name repetitively. Still despite the unlikely setting for humour of his isolation cell, that doesn’t stop Gregory’s adventures or those of his visiting friend; Herman Vermin, a vain, grandiose, imaginary (or is he?) rat.

The playful use of perspectives, including through Gregory’s eyes, enables readers to experience his tragic and hilarious humanity. Dramatic compression and expansion of the comic strip panels, the four walls of Gregory’s world, reveals him to be both oppressed and contained by his environment. Similarly, despite his ‘helpless’ state, Gregory has a profound effect on those he encounters in this sympathetic portrayal of the tensions and tedium within a psychiatric institution.

Gregory was published as four books Gregory I – IV by Piranha Press and later reprinted in two volumes by DC comics as A Gregory Treasury Vol. 1 & 2 (2004)

Greg Neate’s website

Further reading:

Psychiatry:

Psychiatric Tales – Darryl Cunningham
Years of the Elephant – Willy Linthout
Couch Fiction – Philippa Perry

Biography/flashpoints:

Maus – Art Speigelman
Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Palestine/Footnotes in Gaza – Joe Sacco
Pyongyang – Guy Delisle

Superhero:

The Watchmen –  Allan Moore/Dave Gibbons
The Dark Night Returns – Frank Miller
V for Vendetta – Allan Moore


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