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Graphic Medicine Novels: Dark Early

 Dark Early

Dark Early


Dark Early


Bibliographic Record

 Title  Dark Early
 Author  Bradshaw, Hannah
 Illustrator  Bradshaw, Hannah
 Mental Illness  Depression
 Publication Date  2015
 Publisher  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
 ISBN  978-1508608417
 # Pages  90
 Color Profile  Black & White
 Worldcat Link
 Amazon Link
 Annotator  Jen A. Fisher


Bradshaw’s work Dark Early is a story that is told without words. In it we see an unnamed protagonist as he deals with depression, self-harm and the struggle to move forward with his life.


Though only 90 pages long and without words, each illustration has a palpable emotional weight to it. Throughout the story, the protagonist is depicted as the only human within this world. Despite the fact we see him engage in scenes that require human interaction, like going to school, riding on public transportation and entering a convenience store, he is completely alone and isolated within the pages.

Mental Illness Narrative

There are references to suicidal ideation and self-harm within the text, although, without words, we only have our own assumptions and interpretations of the protagonist’s thoughts. Other classic signs of depression are prominent throughout the book, such as the boy’s fluctuation between bouts of insomnia and hypersomnia.

Humanistic Revelations

Dark Early is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure novel for depression. The fact that there are no words in the book leaves the reader hopeful that the protagonist will turn the corner; however, this is a book that is purposefully ambiguous. Like many Mary Sue characters or silent video game heroes (E.g. Link from The Legend of Zelda), the protagonist of this book is supposed to be a self-insertion for the reader.


Recommended for middle school- and high school-aged adolescents. This title was almost excluded from the book list as there is no active dialogue, thus the reader must draw their own conclusion as to the narrative. Despite this, the visual images conveyed depression accurately and would benefit the collection.

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