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Graphic Novels for Children and Young AdultsA Collection of Critical Essays$
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Michelle Ann Abate and Gwen Athene Tarbox

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781496811677

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496811677.001.0001

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Comics, Adolescents, and the Language of Mental Illness: David Heatley’s “Overpeck” and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole

Comics, Adolescents, and the Language of Mental Illness: David Heatley’s “Overpeck” and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole

Chapter:
(p.45) 3 Comics, Adolescents, and the Language of Mental Illness: David Heatley’s “Overpeck” and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole
Source:
Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults
Author(s):

Sarah Thaller

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496811677.003.0004

This chapter demonstrates the ability of comics to transcend the limitations of language in narratives about mental illness by focusing first on David Heatley's three-part comic, “Overpeck,” and second on Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole. “Overpeck” tells the story of a young girl, Sadie Grace, who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, a complex mental disorder that occurs as a result of trauma. Swallow Me Whole is a long-form comic that brilliantly uses the combination of text and image to convey the experience of two teenage siblings with schizophrenia. While neither of these texts is directly marketed as young adult fiction, both feature adolescent protagonists with experiences that are relatable and understandable for young readers who would benefit greatly from such authentic depictions of mental illness.

Keywords:   comics, mental illness, David Heatley, Overpeck, Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole, young adult novels, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia

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