Our Book of the Month for April is Feelings: A Story in Seasons by Manjit Thapp, a vibrant graphic novel about a young woman's emotional world changing through the seasons, published by Random House. We spoke to Manjit about her book, illustrating mental health and her advice for new illustrators.
In your own words, how would you describe your book Feelings: A Story in Seasons?
In the book, we follow one woman’s year of emotions, from the highs of early summer to the cold, grey isolation of winter. The book illustrates the different shades of anxiety and hope that each new season brings, and the stages of joy and pain that fuel our growth.
What inspired the idea for the book?
The book was inspired by a short 12-page comic I made during university for one of our self-initiated projects. The comic I made was called ‘SAD’, and was about seasonal affective disorder. It’s a project that I’m still very proud of. When the opportunity for a book came about, I loved the idea of revisiting that concept.
What was your creative process behind creating this graphic novel? Did you approach each season differently?
Each chapter represents a different season, starting with "Early Summer" and going through "Late Summer," "Monsoon," "Autumn," "Winter," and "Spring." I started by making a list of the feelings I wanted to connect with each season and a colour palette for each chapter. I began writing all the text for the book first and then moved onto the images, planning out compositions for each spread. It was a different way of working for me, since I always put the images first.
What is your approach towards writing and drawing about mental health?
I felt a lot of pressure at the beginning that others wouldn’t be able to relate to it, but I quickly discovered that I had to make it personal and true to me by drawing on my own thoughts and experiences. So even if no one could relate to it, at least it was coming from a real place. But, hearing from people who see themselves in the pages is so rewarding!
Who are some artists and illustrators that have influenced and inspired your work?
Some of my favourite artists are Frida Kahlo,Amrita Sher-gil, Yoshitomo Nara, Henri Matisse and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
What advice would you give to an illustrator who hopes to write their own graphic novel?
If you're new to the format, I suggest making short comics first so you can get used to conveying a story in this way. I also recommend reading a lot of graphic novels or comics. There are so many different styles and ways to tell a story through pictures!