Why I wrote a graphic novel about the two weeks I spent in a coma

Their struggle was both mental and physical. Overwhelming tremendous anger at their misfortune; the classic signs of sepsis (flu-like symptoms, excruciating pain), fever and a rash) which were missed by her GP, who told her it only happened once in 30 years.

As an artist and graphic novel writer, drawing has always been Slattery’s way of making sense of the world, and it was only time she turned her pencils to the experience to tell her own story. Not so much in her own words, but in her own artistic style.

The result is Coma, a graphic novel that focuses on the 15 days she passed out. Only her inner narrative was anything but still. Slattery suffered from monstrous hallucinations that she compares to her own purgatory, full of phantoms and menaces, medieval in quality.

The result is a remarkable insight into the mind of a body struggling to survive.

Meanwhile her husband and three children, then seven, ten and twelve, stood by her bedside. Slattery could feel the emotions in the room and it only fired her imagination as she battled her inner demons.

While her memory suffered upon waking, those images never faded.

Drawing her helped smooth the tangle of dreams. The eerie face looming over her, a clock on the wall of her infirmary. The skulls that surrounded them, nurses. The ninjas that jumped into her subconscious that she can see now were the surgeons.

A year after her trauma, Slattery read the journal Dan kept during her coma. Endless quantities of spaghetti bolognese from the neighbors, ripped pants, car breakdown, taking son Teddy to buy new sneakers and wondering how on earth he’s going to prepare his kids for losing their mother.

These two narrative strands embroider the fabric of your graphic novel.

“The book is very much blind to my experience. And then Dan is blind,” says Slatter.

Dan’s diary is written in honest charcoal, real and serious. In contrast, Slattery’s hallucinations are vivid in color, drawn in walnut ink, scanned, and overlaid with ochre, sage, and ink blue.

It’s not the book she ever wanted to write, but she feels graphic novel form is the perfect medium for conveying a horror so unimaginable that was at the same time terribly mundane. Why I wrote a graphic novel about the two weeks I spent in a coma

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