Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me : A Graphic Memoir

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between "crazy" and "creative" in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.

Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.

Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to "cure" an otherwise brilliant mind.

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney's memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist's work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.

Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9781592407323
Branch Call Number: 616.857 FOR
Characteristics: 248 p. : chiefly ill. ; 23 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Graphic Memoirs
debstanton1 Jan 07, 2019

Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between “crazy” and “creative” in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 18, 2019

Being an artist myself I understand this memoir and dealing with your creative demons. I know this book isn't for everyone with the crazy layouts and discussion of disorders and mental depression but worth the read. It's one of my new favorites.

Jan 25, 2017

A bit hard to follow, all done as cartoons.

Aug 01, 2016

The 'graphic memoir' started out being rather coarse with nudity which seemed to me to be unnecessary; but as the book progressed I could see more and more value in it for sufferers of Bipolar Disorder and their families. Forney has brought out the essence of the illness in her memoir and the book will serve as solace for those in the depths of depression while cautioning those in the grip of mania or hypomania.

CMLibrary_sfetzer May 17, 2016

Marbles is the memoir of cartoonist Ellen Forney which covers her diagnosis with and subsequent treatment of Bipolar Disorder. The graphic novel spans from Forney’s thirtieth birthday forward as she struggles with mania, depression, medication side effects, and everything in between. Along the way Forney explores the possible connections between her illness and her creativity, going so far as to research artists from the past who exhibited traits of Bipolar Disorder. Though the memoir deals with serious topics, Forney manages to keep the work filled with an equal mix of levity and of hope. This is an important book for anyone trying to gain some insight into this little understood illness or for anyone who is currently suffering and looking for someone to relate to.

May 16, 2015

Why would I give this book 5 stars? Because the author reveals her bipolar disorder and the truth of her life in a way that is fascinating, funny, sad, educational and deeply moving. Forney's desire to understand being bipolar and whether she can still be creative is what life is all about--coming to terms with who she is and finding strength in her wholeness. The combination of the story and the art is excellent--it's not just about Forney's life and struggles, but about creativity and the creation of a meaningful, balanced life.

KateHillier Oct 01, 2014

Ellen thinks she's just full of creative energy - then she's told that she's experiencing a manic period of bipolar disorder. When medication is tabled she refuses because of her fear that it will interfere with her creative mind. So begins a graphic novel detailing an artist learning about herself through this new lens and learning to manage, and live, with both parts of her disease. The artwork is absolutely perfect to go with this story. The manic periods are bursting with energy despite being in black and white and the depressive episodes appear stark and lonely as Ellen finally agrees to some medication and her journey of finding a balance of that also begins.

It's informative as it is relatable and heartbreaking but it is also hopeful as you see a woman who feared the repercussions of her mental illness discover that there is a way to live with it. The only reason I give this three stars is because sometimes I found the art a little overwhelming and scattered but, then again, that makes sense considering the subject matter.

May 12, 2014

I'm a fellow consumer, and thinking it dangerous to go alone, I took Marbles along to my first day at a new job. Forney shares the (often hilarious) details of her type one bipolar disorder in the manner of someone telling an inside joke: her initiation into Club Van Gogh, that time she tried to seduce a wall, even her mom's "I Love NPR" t-shirt. Being invited along for an inside joke makes you feel like you're talking to a friend, and sometimes, having a friend along saves the day (my first day at work still sucked, but at least it sucked in a way I could tell as a funny story instead of something only my shrink knows about).

I <3 this book.

Apr 09, 2014

So poignant! I couldn't put it down til I was done.

loveablelibrarian Dec 05, 2013

Loved it! I totally appreciate Forney's honesty. Really cool book.

Jun 26, 2013

fun and informative graphic novel on cartoonist Ellen Forney's struggle with Bipolar Disorder.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jan 25, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

JessicaReadsBooks Feb 04, 2015

JessicaReadsBooks thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at TSCPL

To Top