SLCZF 2023! In a week when there was a sudden resurgence of interest in comics about “being sad” it seems rather appropriate to be covering Chloe Green’s first self-published short A Crying Shame today ay Broken Frontier. Making its London festival debut at the South London Comic and Zine Fair on July 16, A Crying Shame fits somewhere within the wellbeing/mental health subcategory of graphic medicine, also touching on themes of identity and self-understanding.
Green’s 20-plus page first comic is a reflection on years of repressing her feelings publicly; of a fear of being observed crying and the awkwardness and embarrassment that would entail. That emotional suppression would lead to a toxic build-up of stifled feelings, and she traces that journey to its resolution through counselling, friendship and new perspectives on life.
As I have said on numerous previous occasions at Broken Frontier the most powerful autobio comics often comes from work that is stripped back visually, allowing the reader to reach directly into its emotional core without distraction. Green’s cartooning is not necessarily elaborate in style but that only serves to make what she is communicating all the more accessible and resonant.
What is particularly impressive here, especially from early work in the medium, is how A Crying Shame plays so confidently with the visual tricks of the form. Comics’ relationship with the passage of time between panels is used to strong thematic effect on multiple occasions, while Green’s pacing is excellent in building up to those quietly impactful story beats. A late use of visual metaphor may take a familiar form to those well read in this area of graphic medicine but that does not in any way diminish its effectiveness, and serves to inextricably link us empathetically to Green’s on-page persona.
Work like this is important on multiple levels. For the creator it can be part of the process of recovery and catharsis. For an individual reader it can be a reminder that they are not alone in their own life experiences. And for a wider audience it can be practice to point to as an example of coverage of the importance of self-care. We need more honest, raw and emotionally articulate comics like this, certainly not less.
Chloe Green • Self-published, £6.50
Review by Andy Oliver
SLCZF is held at Stanley Arts on July 16th. More details here.