Library invites graphic artist with bipolar disorder to speak

Ellen Forney is expected to talk about how cartooning fits in well with depicting manic depression.

Ellen Forney

Ellen Forney

Musicians, artists and scientists are just a few examples of the variety of people the Everett Public Library invites to participate in its ongoing series of free public events.

Yet the decision to invite Ellen Forney, a Seattle artist whose work includes two graphic books on her diagnosis and treatment for bipolar disorder, may be something of a first.

“It never occurred to us,” said librarian Cameron Johnson. In part because there’s also never been someone as accessible on the topic as Forney “to pry that door open so we can actually talk about this stuff,” he said.

It was a recommendation from another staff member who had attended one of Forney’s workshops that led to the library’s invitation. The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 10 in the main library’s auditorium.

“I expect her to talk about how cartooning fits in well with depicting the moods of manic depression,” Johnson said.

“If you look at her books, it’s pretty extraordinary. It’s almost cinematic in its treatment of how to take light and dark and turn it into a mood, and she does it beautifully.”

The books are darkly humorous.

“It took a lot of guts for her to put this stuff out there,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness, and she has turned it into an art form.”

Grants from The Friends of the Everett Public Library help pay for its ongoing free programming, with about 30 events each year. The programming takes a break in the summer, resuming again after Labor Day.

The upcoming schedule includes a Sept. 22 performance by a North Carolina musician who plays the double neck guitar; the author of a book on the creation of the North Cascades National Park on Sept. 29; a University of Washington physician who volunteers with Doctors Without Borders on Oct. 21; and a two-day celebration of all things Frankenstein on Oct. 27 and 28.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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