Monday, May 19, 2014

Hyperbole & A Half. Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Once upon a time, someone linked me to a web comic/blog about Allie wondering whether her sweet, sweet dog was actually mentally challenged. I was immediately hooked with Hyperbole and A Half, Allie's blog. Although her drawings are definitely on the simple side, she manages to capture expressions and body language perfectly. In that dog story, the Simple Dog's confusion in trying to understand Allie's IQ tests is palpable in just a few strokes. You may also know Allie from this one image from her web comic that quickly became popular on the intarwebz.

Then, Hyperbole and A Half stopped updating, causing concern among the readers. A lot later, Allie came back with a new comic, which was part one of how she was battling with depression. It was scary: this person who was so damned funny was suffering, and we didn't know!

Adventures in Depression and Depression Part 2 are amazing: Allie explains with humor and insight what being depressed feels like, and why someone telling you to take up yoga to cheer yourself up won't work. One comparison that stuck with me was her cartoon self holding dead fish as a metaphor to her feelings, trying to tell people they are dead; instead of knowing what to do with this information, people would try to help Allie look for her fish (they're not lost--they're dead!), or they'd suggest that Allie try feeding them (too late--they're dead!), or take bees as pets instead (how does that help with the dead fish?). If anyone needs to explain depression to others, this should be used as reference material.

You can read her for free online, so why buy this book? For me it was a no-brainer: Allie Brosh has delighted my everyday for so long that I will be happy to support her in the hopes that she'll keep on writing and drawing. It's selfish of me, I know.

Also, the book contains the hilarious story "Parrot," which I either had managed to skip online or it just does not exist anywhere else. In it, Allie and her sister are given a toy parrot that repeats words back to them, which is probably the stupidest gift to give children (unless, as Allie suspects, the gift came from someone who hated her parents). The kids begin to terrorize the household with this toy robot immediately. Just the way that robot parrot is drawn, expressionless, recording gurgling sounds from the garbage disposal in the sink had me in stitches. The cheer-ups this book provides are worth the price.

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