Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease – Surely too good to be done in 24 hours?
I’ve seen a fair number of 24 hour comics over the years. It’s a simple concept; 24 hours, 24 pages, start to finish, no prep. The results are everything you might expect more often than not; rushed, sketchy, fractured works that are artistic exercises rather than satisfying comics.
But then occasionally you stumble across a 24 hour comic that isn’t just a sequential sketch book. And Tom Humberstone’s Everything You Never wanted to Know About Crohns Disease is one of them. And that’s the last time I write the whole title. And in case you wonder, Humberstone uses Crohns rather than Crohn’s. I’ll go with his choice.
(The explanation and reasoning behind Tom Humberstone’s Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease)
It’s probably because Humberstone’s writing about something so personal that Crohns works so well. The narrative is a simple thing; lots of Humberstone talking direct to the reader, explaining his condition and the effect it has on his life. The honesty is difficult at times, since Crohns deals with very personal matters, but read it you will, because Humberstone makes it so easy to do so, lightning the reader’s load with enough humour to get us through the difficult scenes. Humberstone takes us through the basics of the disease, his diagnosis at 11 and how he dealt with it, the drugs, the enemas, the embarrassment, the food tests and how it affects his adult life. It’s simple yet powerful stuff, handled rather brilliantly, with even the most mortifying moments recalled for the reader:
(It’s the eyes in the second panel that do it. Humberstone’s comedy in the most embarrassing of situations allows his readers to empathise with his condition and aids our understanding – perfect storytelling technique.)
Throughout Crohns Humberstone allows us a very intimate view of his life and his disease. His candour, his humour, his honesty – all go towards making this most difficult of subjects eminently readable and enjoyable. It seems strange describing the artist recounting a painful and embarrassing disease as entertaining, but once you read it, you’ll easily see what I mean.
(Another great page from Humberstone’s Crohns. The backgrounds and captions doing the panel border’s job whilst Humberstone’s thick and clean line communicates the moment so well.)
And the art is something more than standard sketch book fare as well. If it wasn’t for Humberstone telling us that the comic is a 24 hour comic I don’t think it would be possible to tell. Humberstone uses a thick line, strong blacks and no panel borders; relying on his backgrounds or captions to frame the art on the page. It’s an attractive and effective look for the story. There’s a similarity in style to Tim Sale at his best and even Peter Kuper. And yet, remind yourself once more, this was made in just 24 hours. Classy stuff.
Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohns Disease is available from Tom Humberstone either for free on his website or, and this is always preferable (and you know it) the print versions available from his website here.