Sometimes the thoughts or the illustrations of the most famous philosophers and painters doesn’t quite cut it—maybe all we need to understand life a little better are experiences we can relate to; shared experiences, with no direct morale provided to inadvertently help others get a grip on life, one that does alienate or judge.
Allie Brosh’s graphic novel, Hyperbole and a Half, sets up an honest and safe atmosphere for all of life’s ups and downs. In her book, she comically addresses her childhood adventures as a rebel, her life as an adult, as well as her wonderfully comical dogs. Brosh spares no room for judgment, whether it be from the author side or the audience side, as she critiques the marvels of her own flawed characteristics. This in itself is a quality to be applauded as it is difficult for individuals to point out their own flaws, freely, honestly and in public.
Though Brosh writes about her personal experiences, the wonderfully concocted drawings she includes help bring to life her world and humor. At a glance, the comics seem simplistic and unsophisticated, though very quickly it becomes evident that is done on purpose, amplifying her comedic flair. Furthermore, the comics serve as an extension of Brosh’s writing; she doesn’t spend too much time describing the physical world around her, but instead leaves that to her comics. The exaggeration of her drawings illustrate those odd moments in life that cannot be fully expressed by words, but once seen, makes sense. Take this illustration for example:
Brosh includes this in her novel as she describes her experience as a child, living and breathing her love for cake. The image clearly exemplifies the overwhelming awe a child may feel for the infamous dessert, a sensation I’m sure everyone has felt at one point in their life.
The same applies to Brosh’s account of her own experience with depression. In her accounts, she offers an insightful point of view of how depression affects the mind of an individual from the point of view of that individual. She offers a unique perspective in which Brosh describes her absence of emotion, and it ends up being the most heartfelt and emotional part of the book. Beautifully written and described, she also points out how a lot of people around her did not understand depression. Without intending to, Brosh offers advice on how to help people with depression, simply by pointing out how she felt when certain people would be overly “positive.” She describes depression, saying, “It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something—it’s nothing. And you can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.”
It is Brosh’s blunt honesty and ability to poke fun at all of life’s situations that makes her book such a joy to read. Her re-telling of personal quirky stories as an adult and child, allows her audience to embrace embarrassing moments, dark situations, and irrational thoughts one may have. At the end of the day, we are all a little bit irrational, dark, and embarrassing… why hide it?
Allie Brosh lives as a recluse in her bedroom in Bend, Oregon. In 2009, she thought, “I know what would be a good idea! Instead of becoming a scientist, I should write and draw things on the internet!” This was a horrible idea for too many reasons to count, but the decision wasn’t really based on logic. Things sort of spiraled from there.
Brosh’s award-winning blog “Hyperbole and A Half” somehow became an award winning blog, and in 2013, Advertising Age named Brosh one of the fifty most influential creative figures in the world. Brosh has also given herself many awards, including “fanciest horse drawing” and “most likely to succeed.”