Welcome to the Comic Book Club mailbag, where readers — like you! — send us comic book questions, and we answer them, right here on this website. We are the first people think about doing this!
Anyway, if you have a question for us, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know it’s okay to print. And if you’d prefer us to read it on our live show/podcast, let us know that, too!
Hi, guys! I’ve been a huge fan of the show for a real long time, and really appreciate what you do. So, thanks!
I have a 12 year old son who loves pretty much everything pop and geeky, but struggles with depression and debilitating anxiety. He’s currently staying at a residential facility very far from home, hoping to acquire some skills to get him back to enjoying life.
I want to order some books for him to read in his down time while he’s there, so I’d love some recommendations on good graphic novels/comics/trades dealing with anxiety and depression. Thing is though, they’ve got to be kind of quirky and fun. He doesn’t really like to read mopey, sad stuff, or anything that takes itself too seriously. He’s read Scott Pilgrim and loves anything from Bryan Lee O’Malley, loves I Hate Fairyland, Chew, he’s starting to get in to YA stuff, like Ready Player One and Maze Runner.
I remember a couple of times I’ve heard guests talk about the kind of comic I’m looking for, but I can’t remember the specifics.
I’d love to hear any recommendations you have.
Keep up the good work!
Oh, and I’ve always wondered… Is Pete doing a bit? Like is he a character? Or is he just Pete.
Love you guys!
Comic Book Club answers:
Hi CG! Thanks for writing, and I’m going to answer your second question, first. The answer is: Pete is very much true to himself, but we often hype up our own personalities on the live show. If Pete disagrees with this (somewhat vague) assessment, he can yell at me in the comments.
On to your main question!
Depression/anxiety/other mental health issues are a BIG deal right now, mostly (I’d venture) because we’re in a remarkably positive and supportive age for discussing these things openly. That’s bled through the comics, and we’ve seen a ton of comics recently that tackle the subject head on. You only need to look as far as a few of our recent shows (for example, this one with Howie Noel) to see how it’s really bubbling up as a topic.
That said, the tricky thing in your request, I’d say, is: A) the age group, and B) quirky.
A lot of times, these books are extremely serious, because it’s an extremely serious topic. Or they’re from the perspective of adults looking back on their lives dealing with mental health issues.
That said, here are a few options:
Lost At Sea: If he likes “Scott Pilgrim,” check out Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Lost at Sea,” which isn’t explicitly about depression but does deal with loneliness, as a girl named Raleigh goes on a supremely weird road trip.
The Sentry: There are a number of books about the Marvel Comics character, and they’re all pretty excellent. The idea is that a guy named Bob is secretly a superhero named The Sentry. He’s stuck in a never-ending battle with an evil being called The Void. Or is he??? Each time out of the gate, The Sentry deals with the state of his reality in a different way. It’s definitely superhero comics, but it’s fascinatingly done, and really shows how the character isn’t just “Marvel’s Superman.”
She-Hulk Vol 1: Deconstructed: Another Marvel book, this recent run by Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon shows what happens after Jen Walters goes through a traumatic experience, and her alter-ego morphs as a result. The arc deals with agoraphobia, PTSD, trauma and more in a responsible manner — that’s still exciting and well-drawn superhero comics.
The Woods: This series is about a high school that suddenly finds it transported to a weird planet filled with bloodthirsty monsters – and worse. And because you’ve got a whole high school, you’ve got everything. Need a strained familial bond, grappled with sexuality, or mental health issue? “The Woods” has you covered. Plus, it has a great mythology and killer art.
There are plenty more – and readers, if you have suggestions, weigh in, in the comments. And thanks for writing in!
Be sure to subscribe to our Comic Book podcast which is live every Tuesday night and posts reviews first thing Wednesday morning!