Emma T Capps | 2023 | Illustration & Literary Arts
13/18: A Comic About a Coma
India ink, sumi ink, digital color, blood
My short autobiographical comic, 13/18, explores the parallel worlds of illness and health – one that is sometimes stark, and is sometimes tenuous. I chose to depict the first time I became ill, and the feeling of falling into the unknown of an induced coma I suffered in fall 2015. In the first piece, I am healthy and my world is ablaze with color – in the second, I am literally drained of both color and vitality. Both pieces are laid out with a near-identical composition to highlight the parallels between the world of the healthy and of the sick. In the first piece, my central figure is healthy and alert – in that same central space in the next image, I’m comatose and dependent on machines.
The popular concept of what it means to wake from a coma was not my experience. There was no sudden moment where my eyes sprang open and my parents rejoiced – rather, my memories are fuzzy and barely chronological. Returning to consciousness felt like slowly surfacing from a deep pool. For the second piece, I eschewed the original panel borders and linear structure to reflect my feeling of being lost and adrift, with few lifelines to tug me back into the world of the living.
This comic is entirely drawn on vellum using India and Sumi ink, brush, and dip pen. The colors are done digitally, except for the brief flashes of blood in my hospital scenes on my neck and next to the bed where nurses strapped me in. I painted those manually using a vial of my own blood from a recent hospital visit.
from Parallels, Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, January 11 - February 16, 2019