We’re always interested at Broken Frontier in the ways that graphic medicine communicates and conveys personal experience. This week a new Humanoids graphic memoir by Valérie Villieu and Raphaël Sarfati explores the experience of living with Alzheimer’s. We were particularly taken with the preview pages of this new release which fully embrace the potential of the unique language of comics. Check them out, alongside the official press release, below.
Humanoids Debuts LITTLE JOSEPHINE, A Moving and Visually Stunning Alzheimer’s Memoir
Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint has been showcasing deeply personal and political stories: acclaimed biographies of Rod Serling and Hedy Lamarr; a memoir about the New York Marathon; and an exploration of the Vietnamese immigrant communities known as Little Saigons. Now, following William Roy’s intimate and surprisingly funny graphic memoir In Vitro, comes a book that explores the end of our days. LITTLE JOSEPHINE: MEMORY IN PIECES by writer Valérie Villieu and artist Raphaël Sarfati is a moving and visually arresting memoir chronicling the relationship between a caregiver and her patient Josephine, who is living with Alzheimer’s.
LITTLE JOSEPHINE is an account of the author’s experience caring for the elderly Josephine. Though vastly different in age, their connection is instantaneous—and despite the debilitating disease that Josephine faces every single day, they’re able to form a beautiful friendship that transcends the reaches of modern medicine. Equal parts heartwarming, whimsical, and chilling, LITTLE JOSEPHINE charts the highs and lows of their relationship as Valérie attempts to care for, understand, and communicate with the loving and capricious Josephine in the face of her escalating dementia and an indifferent elder care system.
Sarfarti’s incredible artwork embraces what is unique about the graphic novel medium: panels scatter, disappear and loop just like Josephine’s mercurial memory. Library Journal praises how “the artwork illustrates the missing pieces of memory and captures the jagged mental landscape of the patient.” Publishers Weekly says the “message is unmistakable and soulful: readers, if they live long enough, may become Josephine. In centering the day-to-day experience of elder care, Villieu and Sarfati show how that stage of life doesn’t have to be a tragedy—but only if society commits to doing better.”
As Josephine escapes the boundaries of the page in search of clarity, readers are forced to reckon with the same instability and uncertainty she faces daily—as well as reckon with the realities of an overburdened system that makes the lives of Alzheimer’s patients far harder than they need to be. This first-hand account of an unlikely friendship between a visiting nurse and her patient becomes a much bigger story as the author draws poignant connections to love, memory, society, and what we owe to one another.
LITTLE JOSEPHINE: MEMORY IN PIECES is the latest addition to the Life Drawn imprint and will be available where books are sold on April 7.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Valérie Villieu has been a visiting nurse in the Paris region for about twenty years, while at the same time pursuing personal and collective creative projects, mostly pertaining to photographic arts. Little Josephine is one component of a collective work she initiated around the theme of old age entitled Vieux (“Old”) which was exhibited at the City of Sciences and Industry (Cité de la Santé) in Paris.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Raphaël Sarfati is a bookstore keeper in a small village, as well as a comic book illustrator and an occasional vegetarian chef. He regularly collaborates with poetess Beatrice Brérot, searching for their common sequential language, and has been published in Bermuda 1,3,4,5 & X, from Expérience. But most of the time, he likes to let the days pass by, watching for the birds, and hoping for a haïku to come.
Based in Hollywood, California, with branches in Paris, London, and Tokyo HUMANOIDS was co-founded 46 years ago in Paris, France, by legendary creator Mœbius, and has published thousands of titles since, including international bestsellers and iconic series such as The Incal and The Metabarons.