In Marbles, cartoonist Ellen Forney’s life-altering journey though mental illness is graphically exposed in more ways than one. The Forney we see at the start of the story is experiencing her most sexual, creative, and manic period, which is followed by a big crash that leads to her bipolar diagnosis at 30. Here, her story evolves into the struggle not only to come to terms with medicating herself, but also to find the right formula of medications that will get her back to her life. This excruciating and lonely process takes four years, even with the help of her omnipresent shrink. Forney’s quest to discover whether her mental illness is necessary to her art is a timeless, not to mention relevant, one. I have to admit, the crazy artist in me wanted her to throw all the meds away and embrace the highs and lows. But as Forney herself points out, a disproportionate number of artists with mental disorders have been institutionalized and/or have tried or succeeded in killing themselves—none of which are great for creativity, and all of which make Forney’s quest to find the right pills and keep on drawing all the more vital. Let’s see what she saved herself to create.


Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, $11.76,


By Elizabeth Ziff


This review appears in the Oct/Nov 2012 issue of BUST Magazine with cover girl Aubrey Plaza. Subscribe now.


Tags: books , book review