CHRONIC: Preview #1
A glimpse of the world you're about to enter in upcoming weeks
First, thank you all for the wonderful words of support (and coffees) you’ve sent my way as Mulberry Treehouse revs up for the launch of its first serialized book, Chronic: An Unauthorized Autobiography. Your encouragement truly means the world to me.
How will this thing work, you ask?
In the upcoming weeks I will release each chapter (or part of a chapter, depending on length). Most of the page counts each week will average around 6-8 pages, though some may be shorter, some may be a bit longer. I know you’re all busy people, and I don’t want to overwhelm you with a bunch o’ pages all at once.
“FOOL!” barked my dog. “WHY-are-you-giving-this-aWAY? For-FREE?!”
Because I’m trying something new.
My background is writing and illustrating children’s picture books, as well as art direction and graphic design. Making a graphic novel is challenging, and sharing the book on Substack is a way to prove I can stick with doing all that damned drawing day after day in the comics format.
Because this story is personal, and maybe what I share will be helpful to readers and their loved ones dealing with a chronic disease.
I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for 45 years as of this upcoming Thanksgiving. Oof! When I was first diagnosed, there weren’t a lot of tech tools available for managing the disease. And before insulin was first discovered and used therapeutically in 1922, diabetes was pretty much a death sentence—many of those diagnosed died within a year. Compare that to current day, where we have some amazing tech to help keep us diabetics alive—continuous blood glucose monitors, insulin pens and pumps, and more of an understanding of how certain foods affect our glucose levels. No cure yet, but we’re getting there. I may see it within my lifetime, but I’m not holding my breath.
(By the way, it’s not the first time the worlds of insulin and comics have come together: the inventor of the first smaller, wearable insulin pump in 1976 was Dean Kamen, whose dad was comic book artist Jack Kamen.)
So, what is Chronic about?
This story is loosely based on my experiences during the week of my diagnosis. It combines the coming-of-age genre with a humorous ghost story, of sorts. It is not sweet, precious, or preachy. It strives for honesty within the bounds of an interesting story. And it illustrates how far treatment for Type 1 diabetes has come since the discovery of insulin in 1922. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that on difficult days.
Please note that this is not a story for the picture book crowd. This is meant for ages 12 and up, including adults. I don’t drop any f-bombs, but there are a few shits and damns in there. Just sayin’.
Wondering why it’s an “unauthorized autobiography”?
Ray Davies of The Kinks wrote a book called X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography back in the ’90s, and I have planned to steal that unauthorized autobiography bit ever since. It seemed perfect for my project, a story based on my personal experiences with a heaping helping of bunkum and balderdash thrown in. If it’s good enough for Ray Davies, then by God it’s good enough for me.
Next week we’ll meet the cast of characters. Thanks again for reading!