Alzheimer’s is a terrifying and debilitating disease, for it begs us to answer the same questions I illustrated above. Who are we, if our minds rebel against us? It is not a question that Miguel Peres and team seek to answer with their new graphic novel, Fishing Memories, but it is an exploration of it. A journey through the pain and heartache of an Alzheimer’s sufferer and their family. A mechanic who made his life with the hands he used to fix cars feels stuck on an island of isolation, working to reclaim the memories that consistently try to escape him. The sense of loneliness and the exploration of identity weave through each other in a magnificent and heart-wrenching tandem. Lethe, our protagonist, collects pieces of memory, working at it each day while raging against the process, looking to return to the familiar, to the sense of self. And each time he surfaces…returns…he’s met with his family, who suffer through this long process of loss with each successive return being longer awaited, shorter lived. The unspoken question here asks us…what if they weren’t there? How tragic to reclaim your “self” for but a few moments and be trapped, without anyone familiar to latch on to, before diving in once more to the island. If you are there but no one can reflect your “self,” does it really happen at all?
There is no self-pity in Lethe or in this title, what there is an abundance of, however, is honesty. Peres simply puts the experience on the page for us, aided by Marjory Yokomizo’s glorious style with an indistinct presence to free the reader’s moorings along with the story. Mario Feitas reinforces this aesthetic with the shaking lines and scattered text blocks, making everything feel as though it's running in fluid. The fact that you can linger on a page seems to deliberately make the reader supply their own drive to move on to the next panel, reflecting the work that Lethe does and reinforcing the struggle that is the core to every character’s journey. This is a work that will make you think, that will bring you face to face with the kind of existence that we fear in our souls, one that we feel badly for when it happens to someone else, but we recoil in terror bringing ourselves to that if it doesn’t affect us personally. This book will hold a mirror up to truth, not letting us look way and opening ourselves to understanding and growing. It’s a fantastic piece of art, for it affects you.
There are so many thoughts about life and death. One idea that has always stuck with me about grief is: Are we mourning the loss of a person, or the loss of what that person meant to us? Does that make us the facet, or the reflection? Without the things that amalgamate into the being that we are, without the memories behind the smiles and scars, what, truly, are we?
I know someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and it is every bit as heart-wrenching and soul defining as this book imparts. This is a journey on what it is to be human, what it means to have lived a life, and what it means to watch both slip away. This is the type of art that connects us not with a hammer or a catchphrase, but with a soft-spoken word and an open heart. This is a journey that you owe to yourself to take, to live here for but a scant number of pages while the team’s work plucks at you. Everyone will take this path differently, but it is one guided by masters. They feel this deeply and have conveyed that depth to the page for us to plumb with them.
Blue Fox Comics is funding the production of the graphic novel through Kickstarter, which is live now. Help them bring this art to more people. This book will make you think and feel about a perspective that we don’t all share, and we can all use as much of that as we can get to grow. I add my fervent hope that growth will always continue for you and those you love.
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Creative Team: Miguel Peres (Writer), Marjory Yokomizo (Artist), Mario Freitas (Letter & Desginer)
Publisher: Blue Fox Comics
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