Brent Williams (Text) Korkut Öztekin (Artist)
Educational Resources Ltd; New Edition edition
Across 150 pages this graphic memoir offers an explanation and understanding of depression and anxiety – it’s a profound and profoundly moving reading experience; Brent Williams lays his life down in these lines, and in between these lines, the artwork of Turkish graphic artist, illustrator and comic book writer Korkut Öztekin is what, pardon the pun, completes the picture. It’s through the overlay of text and images, the understanding that writer and artist offer one another and, combined, offer the reader, that makes Out of the Woods such an illuminating experience.
In simple language – almost painfully honest at times, though never off-putting – Williams sets out his adult experience of identifying a sadness, a feeling of loss – a loss of pep, of zip, of far more than that too – and he explains his journey from diagnosis (visiting a doctor to talk about anything else, before explaining as a throwaway at the end of the visit that he wasn’t feeling great) through to medication, understanding of his condition and his (deeper) self and an eventual path out of the woods – here depicted as stunning metaphor as well as a literal setting.
Öztekin’s drawings are exquisite, moody, elaborate – they contain multitudes; they provide clues for future parts of the story, they give sign-off to ideas only hinted at in some cases – it’s one of the best marriages of words and images I’ve read and looked through and felt in a modern story.
That it’s a story of hope, of positivity, of almost devastating honesty – is extra icing.
It also felt like the perfect explanation for a condition, a disease, a way of thinking – and then the processing of all of that – helpful for both sufferers and supporters; an explanation for those unaware of the power and pain of depression, a balm for those with symptoms pointing in this direction perhaps. It’s hard to explain it beyond that but it’s a story that has stayed with me, and within that the explanation and determination feels enlivening, empowering, towering.