By Lucy Sullivan. Published by Unbound.
Hardcover, 128 pages, B&W, 2020.
Loss is a complicated & utterly individual experience, as is a mental health crisis. When the two collide the effects can be devastating. It very nearly was for me. I was twenty-three and living abroad when my dad died suddenly. When I took that phone call, in that moment of complete loss my mind imploded and reformed into a black, writhing mess. I had been shoved sideways into a new reality that it later turned out I couldn’t cope with. My mental health crisis reached a crescendo one night, endangering both myself & a friend. I was fortunate that, during this time in my life with my finger hovering over my self destruct button, I managed not to badly harm myself or others and was not sectioned. Not everyone is so lucky.
Barking is the story of Alix Otto who is in the grip of such a crisis. She will not be one of the lucky ones.
Alix is having a very bad day. Easily her worst so far.
A year after they fished her friend’s body from the river, Alix finds herself haunted, chased and driven to the brink by… what?
Figments of her addled mind?
Delusions from too much booze and not enough sleep?
Sectioned and left in the hands of an umbrella health system, Alix is about to find out just how fine a line it is between the sane world and the psychiatric ward at St. Judes.
In recent years the stigma around mental health is slowly being dissolved. Yet cases of depression, anxiety and self harm are rising rapidly, particularly in the young and especially in young women. I still find it rare to hear of stories like mine, of the rage that can take over you when triggered by a stress, such as grief. The more I talk to other people and hear their stories, the more I realise there’s so much still to say.
This full length graphic novel will be an allegorical tale, over ten chapters, based around the experience of myself and others in that time of crisis. For me, as a life-long comic fan, a graphic novel was the perfect medium for this tale and by telling my story as a parable it allows me to be honest about my experience. Through the use of evocative imagery and playing with dialogue I hope to convey how such a moment can feel and hopefully, encourage other sufferers to open up and tell their stories too.
10% of the author’s revenue from each Hardback will be donated to MQ: Transforming Mental Health, Charity No. 1139916 & Scotland SCO46075.
Lucy Sullivan is a freelance artist, animator and functioning dysthymic. As an avid comic fan, book reader and film enthusiast she enjoys telling stories and exploring new ways and materials to illustrate them. Alongside drawing and writing Barking, Lucy is developing a series of mini-comics called 1in4 Zines to further explore issues around mental health.
Graduating from Kingston University in 2005 with BA (Hons) in Illustration & Animation, Lucy has taught Life Drawing, Location Drawing & Observational Drawing for Animation at Kingston University, Westminster University & London College of Communication (University of the Arts London).
As a member of ‘Smuggling Peanuts’ animation collective, Lucy Co-Directed & Animated Music Videos for Coldcut 'Just For The Kick' & One Eskimo 'Hometime'. Both were nominated in ‘Best of’ categories at various film & animation festivals with ‘Hometime’ winning Public Choice: Best Music Video at the British Animation Awards 2008.
She has drawn special effects images and story boards for film and illustrated backgrounds for Television. She continues to develop her fine art practice by drawing on location, a technique that will be used for some of the environments in Barking. Whilst challenging her observational skills through life drawing and painting.