Some three years ago, Dutch cartoonist Maaike Hartjes suddenly found herself incapable of anything. Even the littlest task was too much, simply checking the time tables for the bus caused panic attacks. She was diagnosed with having a burn-out. Only after a month of absolute rest she was able to start drawing again, and began on a task that would help her recover – she created a diary in comic format about what the burnout meant and how she clawed her way back.
Anybody who’s familiar with Maaike’s wonderful art knows what to expect — beautiful little drawings full of feeling and expression, in a style that has been described as Dick Bruna for the 21st century. It’s always a mystery how she manages to instill that much emotion and life in what are basically very cute stick figures. But whereas earlier she stuck to a rather traditional format of pages full of panels, in this book she developed a visual language that reflects the effort she had to undertake to puzzle her life back together again, combining pieces of stationary and stickers with matchbox covers, cutouts from magazines and combining it with her own panels.
The book is available in Dutch as of this week (on April 20th the official presentation takes place at the School of Life in Amsterdam), but an English edition has not been green-lit yet. However, as Maaike explained recently, she originally intended to publish all the pages on her Facebook page, and thus everything is already available in English. Any publisher worth the name should already be emailing her about an English-language edition, we think.
Maaike Hartjes, Burn-out Dagboek. Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2018.