Do you sometimes feel all alone in the world? You aren’t the only one. SG (short for Sad Ghost) has anxious swirling thoughts and feels totally invisible. But when he meets a kindred spirit named Socks, his night begins to improve. Become a member of The Sad Ghost Club yourself, with this heart-warming story about inclusivity from Lize Meddings.
Life is not easy for SG. He has no friends, is struggling with depression and anxiety, and finds day-to-day life incredibly difficult. Though his cute cat Pocket is a fantastic and loyal companion, SG craves human interaction, but also dreads it. When he suddenly gets invited to a party, he is overjoyed. Then anxious. Then positive. Then terrified. All his conflicting emotions take precedent as he goes back and forth over whether he can handle a social gathering. Eventually, pressured by social obligation, he ends up going. And what happens next changes the course of his life forever.
Lize Meddings has created a beautiful concept with The Sad Ghost Club. It is an open discussion of depression and anxiety put in a compact and friendly story, which is hugely entertaining, but still educational and serious. The depiction of SG’s struggle with loneliness and simultaneous desire to be a part of things is relatable to anyone who has struggled with anxiety or depression.
Although SG is initially ignored at the party (who could ignore such a sweet guy?!), he eventually meets someone he identifies with, someone who is on the outskirts. This someone is Socks, and for the rest of the story we follow their developing friendship. SG and Socks eventually decide to leave the party which isn’t really their scene and go for a walk instead (much preferable). The quiet moments between the two of them allow them to really open up and talk about serious issues. Socks also struggles with anxiety, as well as worries about the future and what others think of her. The letting out of emotions is lettered slightly differently, with a bigger text/speech bubbles, which gives the impression of a shout, or an exhale, of anxious thoughts that have been bubbling up inside for a long time. For both, actually speaking their troubles out loud and getting them out in the open provides a sense of relief and release.
The art is gorgeous, but black and white would be too basic a color palette to describe it – there are greys, shades of charcoal, softer and harsher whites which shine off the trees and the moon. The ghosts are very sweet looking, which really helps the subject matter not seem scary for younger readers. The backgrounds, particularly when SG and Socks are outdoors, are wonderful, with beautiful stars, trees, bushes, and the moon all drawn softly. The use of animals in the backgrounds are also fantastic, with a recurring blackbird appearing, as well as SG’s friends Pocket the cat and Fred the frog. Super cute!
Towards the end of the book, SG decides that he should set up a club for people like him and Socks, who sometimes feel lonely, or depressed, or anxious – the titular Sad Ghost Club. What is really amazing is that Lize Mannings didn’t leave the Sad Ghost Club behind in the fictional world of SG. She made it a reality, ‘a club for anyone who’s ever felt sad or lost. It’s the club for those who don’t feel like they’re part of any other club’. There’s a blog, shop, helplines and most importantly, a community for those who need it. What an awesome project to evolve from a graphic novel!