Illustrator Zoe Thorogood (Nails, etc) records six months of her life in this new original graphic novel, It’s Lonely At The Centre Of The Earth.
It’s not for the faint of heart and certainly not pretty, instead a steely-gripping dip into the seemingly endless well of mental health challenges experienced by this supremely talented and intelligent artist.
The time schedule goes back and forth in the story, giving us a highly subjective, self-deprecating view of Zoe, by Zoe herself. Her childhood, the family environment, and her responses to various situations that she felt unable to cope with. Fast forward to times of pandemic, and her panic at being selected to appear at various comic conventions. The comings and going of her self doubts and suicidal thoughts.
What’s incredible to me, as I waded through the deep mire of her illustrated subconscious and problem-solving, was the overarching understanding that Zoe is battling harder against her mental and medical limits than most of us will ever have to fight anything. Her episodes of utter despair and fleeting euphoria are so touching that we want to offer encouragement. But in the next breath, Zoe describes her discomfort at physical contact, at simple conversations. It’s heartbreaking, this loneliness.
There are times when the repetitive nature of the narrative get tiresome for us. We get it, we feel for Zoe, we want her ‘all better’ and ‘on the right road’. But the book is not compressed, the episodes loop around, time stands still and things get repeated.
This is a no-holds-barred, everything-on-the-table, brave work. Beautifully and intensely illustrated, with ingenious methods of rendering real for the reader what Zoe Thorogood experiences every single day.
Image Comics, It’s Lonely At The Centre Of The Earth GN, $12.99 for 196 pages, Mature, trigger warnings: Self-harm