PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) written and illustrated by Guillaume Singelin, French cartoonist and illustrator (and overall magician). A gorgeous and unique book published by First Second. The title is not simply printed on the cover, it is cut out and reveals a first illustration of the story. We catch a glimpse of its main character Jun.
The title is very short, strong and paints a clear picture of what this story is about. Without the clinical definition or a psychologist present in the book, we are introduced to the effects on mental health after a very stressful and traumatic event in someone’s life.
Jun lives on the streets of a fictional city, having returned from a fictional war not too long ago. Guillaume Singelin did not write a true story, yet was able to portray very real feelings through his art and dialogue. It makes the reader feel for all the characters, without getting (too) caught up in the harsh reality that this story is about.
We meet Jun alone in the rain, passing through busy streets, frustrated, trying to find shelter and food. In subdued colors of night time, some veterans are sitting together sharing war stories and Jun does not partake. The next time we see her is in broad daylight, being chased for stealing food at the market. When she makes it to safety, we see her taking pills that seem to calm her down. The little orange bottle contains illicit drugs that are desperately sought after by many a veteran sold by a group of organized and deadly dealers.
Needless to say this story covers a lot of problematic topics, but the most important part is the growth of Jun we get to experience. She is in a bad place, under the influence of drugs, all alone and believing she does not need anyone’s help. Believing nobody wants to help her and just feels pity for this horrible veteran. Believing she is only useful in war. Along the way she meets characters and goes through situations that make her feel more ready to take on the world after war. Spoiler: there’s a dog by her side and he’s a very good boy.
This book is in short tragically beautiful, not the happiest story but enriching and fulfilling. With PTSD by Singelin you will be reminded of how important it is to be patient, helpful and open minded towards people who are struggling mentally or have a mental illness. It also shows the reader how someone can rise above themselves and work through their struggles. It is inspiring for both teams.
If the content did not convince you, the book itself just might. It is a beautiful hardcover with a unique cutout front. Singelin’s art is very expressive and detailed. His art is in fact so rich, that I would not have minded if the book was a bigger format. First Second however created a gorgeous graphic novel that is the perfect size for a cosy read.