After returning home from an unpopular war, Jun becomes an outsider in an indifferent world. Alone, desperate, and suffering from wounds both mental and physical, she seeks relief in the illicit drugs she manages to purchase or steal. Jun’s tough exterior served her well in combat, but she’ll need to nurture her vulnerability and humanity to survive at home. With the support of her fellow vets, the kindness of a stranger who refuses to turn away, and the companionship of a dog named Red, Jun learns to navigate the psychological trauma that she experienced in the war. Singelin’s PTSD is an adult fiction graphic novel that grapples with the reality of being a war veteran about a traumatized war vet who must fend for herself against all odds.
I’m not a fan of serious drama, at all. It’s rare for me to ingest any media that’s not fantastical in nature. Reality is not something I want intruding on my escapism, unless it’s sci-fi that makes you think. I guess that’s my love for mythology coming through. But PTSD by Guillaume Singelin is an exception.
I was drawn to the book due to the art. First Second made an eyecatching cover, with the clipping masked, cut out letters. In a sea of similarly designed book covers, it stands out.
The reviews for the book were also intriguing. I read Comics Beat regularly and find out about new comics through them (fancy that, an old school internet way of finding out about stuff from an individual site, rather than a social network). They wrote a glowing review of PTSD that convinced me to put it on my WTR list.
But the art – man is it good. Granted, I’m a sucker for anything with line art and watercolors and Singelin does not disappoint. This is the kind of art that immediately makes you rethink your own artistic choices and wonder how to learn from them without copping their whole style.
I go back & forth between loving rough, thicker, variable lines that can be used to suggest weight & depth (example: Jonatan Cantero) and these thin, consistent width, Pigma Micron lines, which feel like a rougher version of Herge’s ligne claire style.
(…and I just got the idea of making a roughly textured Micron style digital brush to split the difference…)
Singelin’s art is LOVELY. He’s done a phenomenal job of choosing warm and earthy color palettes that give an organic feel to the art and the cityscape. The watercolors work very well with the lines and palettes.
Mostly I love the sense of place. It’s a city, a bustling mix of old and new, not unlike Akira and it’s progeny. Not surprisingly, Singelin notes Akira and Ghost in the Shell as inflences – and he was living in Tokyo when he conceived the idea and started planning it.
The story was engaging enough to suck me in – and thought-provoking as well. I wonder about PTSD and our service people who return from war, forever changed. I think back to Rambo, which a lot of folks think is some macho gun nut stuff when at it’s core, it’s about a veteran with PTSD left adrift by their country.
I’d never heard of Guillaume Singelin before this but I’ve immediately followed him on Instagram & Twitter. You can never have too much inspiration as a creator (I tend to find & follow every creator I come across that I like).
In closing: you should read this book. And think about what it says.