For all the big, loud and epic events which are portrayed within their pages, comics continue to be a good way to ‘peek behind the curtain’ and see other aspects of real life. However, one aspect which is rarely shown convincingly, no matter how much the noble intentions, is issues concerning mental health. This week, we get a chance to view a book which may actually do just that in The War for Kaleb, which attempts to give an insight in anxiety disorder.
Publisher: Leftovers Ltd
Writer: Jason Pittman
Artist: Jason Pittman
Price: $4.00 from Leftovers Comics Store
The War for Kaleb tells the story of a normal guy living a regular life. However, for this young man, a regular life is not an easy thing to come by as our hero Kaleb suffers from anxiety and requires medication in order to cope. But that gets a little easier when he meets Addison and, after six months together, Kaleb believes he has fallen in love. But is this love real or the result of the pills he takes controlling his life? This is something Kaleb decides to figure out, with the superhero and villain of his mind battling in the background to see who will emerge victorious.
Writer/artist Jason Pittman has created a truly fantastic comic which manages to effectively portray both the life and the inner turmoil of someone suffering from a mental health disorder. Kaleb’s story is incredibly effective and makes for compelling reading, with heart strings being pulled during even the most mundane of scenes – such as him speaking with a friend or confronting an arrogant stranger. Kaleb himself is really well written and comes across as a humble and genuinely nice guy so the trials he goes through feel completely relatable, but especially to those who have been in his situation.
As for the art, Pittman pours just as much heart into the panels as he does the writing. The style is truly beautiful and every panel is incredibly detailed. While the pencils are not perfect and are a little rough, it somehow makes the book look better and more real, thereby making any flaws and blemishes unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The monochrome colour scheme is inspired as it suggests the coldness and isolation of Kaleb’s world behind his medicated prison and contrasts brilliantly with the colourful characters that are Kaleb’s heroic and villainous ‘alternate personalities’.
Although these costumed characters, may feel a little superfluous, compared to the more serious tone of the story, their presence gives the story a relatable core idea for comic book readers to latch on to, and also allows for some fantastic visual metaphors – especially during a climactic fight scene which really clarifies Kaleb’s inner anguish into something really significant.
All in all, The War for Kaleb is a truly incredible title and Pittman has created something which offers one of the best comics about anxiety that we have seen since Worry Wart. It should be an essential read for anyone wishing to know more on the subject or even wishing to read something truly relatable.