While comics are mainly seen as escapist entertainment, they also can also be used to deal with highly personal and troubling events, working as outlets for those who experienced them and support for those who might be going through something similar. The latest book to join the growing roster of highly intimate small press books is Face Down in the Mud, a very personal tale by David B. Cooper regarding a terrible trauma he experienced and the ongoing struggle to recover from it.
Publisher: David Cooper Comics
Writer: David B. Cooper
Artist: David B. Cooper
Price: £4 from davidbcooper.bigcartel.com/
Face Down in the Mud follows writer and artist David B. Cooper as he tells us a story from his past which continues to influence his present. Ten years earlier, David was a fresh faced university student, enjoying his first taste of independence surrounded by his girlfriend and friends. However, this carefree existence is shattered when, on his way to a social function, David is brutally attacked by a group of men for no discernible reason. Now, hurting (both physically and emotionally), this is David’s story has he attempts to pick up the pieces of his life and ensure that this random encounter doesn’t consume what’s left of him.
Despite it’s brutally dark subject matter, Cooper has created an incredible comic which feels both poignant and inspirational. This rendition of what can only be assumed to be one of the most painful encounters a person can go through is honestly heart-breaking and shows some brutal honesty as Cooper bravely opens up to his audience. However, the key is balance and David Cooper finds it perfectly as while this comic bares all, it never descends into a cry for pity, feeling more insightful and possibly even helpful to those who faced similar experiences and maybe other forms of mental and emotional health issues. Regardless of whether this was his intention, this is a truly emotional journey which certainly does as stated and acts as a form of therapy in its creation, with Cooper seemingly pouring his soul into what is a perfectly paced comic.
Cooper’s art is also spot on. His style is quite simplistic and cartoony, and while this might have initially seemed too silly or funny for such heavy matter, it actually works incredibly well. One key factor, is that the artwork isn’t always used to accurately portray events but rather Coopers uses imagery and visual cues to represent key moments – such as the hall of memory doorways, the voices in his head and even the stage and ‘conclusion page’ towards the end. This helps in not only telling the story in an interesting matter, but also keeping the reader engaged, as well as ensuring the creator’s thoughts and feelings come across visually as clearly as he writes.
All in all, Face Down In The Mud is a fantastic book, which is not only an honest account of David Cooper’s darkest hour, but also a great tool for any who have experienced similar troubling or traumatic events to try and gain some clarity of focus surrounding them. This is also another terrific addition to the ever growing pool of ‘mental health’ comics small press is blessing us with and, like almost all the others, is very deserving of your attention.