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Comics for All Ages: Marbles

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Forney, Ellen. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me. Gotham Books: New York, 2012. Print.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me tells the story of artist Ellen Forney’s battle with herself. Forney is an artist who had been seeing a therapist, but after her therapist saw some behavior that was concerning, she recommended Forney to a psychiatrist. There is where Forney’s voyage of self-discovery begins. With the help of her psychiatrist, Forney comes to realize that she has bipolar disorder and that the mood swings she is going through are not going to be easily managed by herself. Forney turns to the lives of other artists with mood disorders as she struggled to find a way to cope with her bipolar disorder without taking any medications. Forney’s graphic memoir is gripping, engaging, and darkly brooding in its telling of an artist’s journey of reliance on friends, family, doctors, art, and medication to figure out just what bipolar disorder means to her and how she will let it control her life.

Visual and textual style: candid, bold, cartoon-like, heavy, brooding, raw, dramatic, informative

Potential readers/appeal factors: memoir, personal, dark humor, inspirational, bipolar disorder, autobiography, nudity, informative, mental disorders


  • Forney was awarded a comic book self-publishing grant from the Xeric Foundation in March of 1997 for “I was Seven in ‘75”.
  • 2000 Eisner Award Nominee for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition for Monkey Food: The Complete “I Was Seven in ‘75” Collection
  • Monkey Food was also nominated for a Harvey Award in 2000 for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work.
  • I Love Led Zeppelin was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2007 for Best Reality-Based Comic..
  • Marbles was on the New York Times Bestseller List
  • Forney won the 2012 “Genius Award” in Literature from Seattle’s The Stranger
  • Marbles was the 2013 “Gradiva Award” winner in Art from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

Other pertinent information

  • Visit Ellen Forney’s website at
  • Forney collaborated with Sherman Alexie to illustrate The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won the National Book Award in 2007.

Subject Guide

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