Everything Is Going Wrong: Comics on Punk & Mental Illness
Editor: Mark Bouchard
Cover Artist: Marie Enger
Designer: Kim McLean
For so many of us, getting into punk music is a means of finding words to describe our anger and rage, as well as to talk about our struggles with mental health. In Everything Is Going Wrong: Comics on Punk & Mental Illness, edited by Mark Bouchard, musicians and comics creators come together to talk about and celebrate the subculture and its broader meaning, especially in the context of developing coping mechanisms and finding community. The anthology was successfully funded on Kickstarter in May 2018 (I was among the backers) and has earned praise from across the comics and music communities.
That praise is well-deserved. Through essays by the likes of Frank Turner and Dave Anians, as well as comics by Liana Kangas and Joe Corallo, Sally Cantirino, Kerin Cunningham, Nadia Shammas, Eric Palicki, Jen Hickman, Marie Enger, Matthew Erman, Sam Beck, Adam Gorham, Tini Howard and more, Everything Is Going Wrong is an intimate look at the power of punk music, the wide-ranging and often overwhelming struggle with mental illness, and the need for a safe scene that makes space for everyone.
Stories in this anthology tackle suicide and suicide ideation, alcoholism and drug dependence, anxiety, abuse, claustrophobia, physical illness and more, as well as how these issues can intersect with gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. There are autobiographical stories as well as fictional ones, which makes for an interesting, well-paced mixture. It is a thorough and diverse deep-dive into topics that are hard to discuss, and it’s beautifully assembled by Bouchard and designer Kim McLean.
I backed this book because of its top-tier creators and because of its relevance to my life, but now that I’ve read it cover to cover, I’m still stunned at just how much care was clearly put into this collection. The vulnerability is staggering; so is the breadth and depth of the connection I felt to the stories that especially resonated with me. Even the ones I couldn’t quite relate to still hit me, the beats of this anthology hard-hitting and steadfast.
Perhaps the best description of Everything Is Going Wrong can actually be found in one of its stories. In “Opposing Forces,” Jackie Reynolds writes, “Tenderness is punk as fuck.”
Some of the stories that stood out, in chronological order, include:
- “Anxiety Punk” by Shelby Criswell, which delves into the life-saving impact of finding a song or a band that resonate deeply enough to make you want to keep going even on the worse days.
- “From the Stars to the Pavement,” in which writer Ryan Ferrier and artist Kate Sherron takes lyrics by Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley and adapt them into a beautiful, heart-rending comic that is as colorful as it is intense.
- “Sink” by Liana Kangas, Joe Corallo, and letterer Cardinal Rae, which explores varying types of grief and the heady connections we make as young people.
- “Love All the Time” by Sally Cantirino, which navigates the feeling of home that can be found in a band, a song, or a crowd.
- “Girls to the Front” by Nadia Shammas, Elise Schuenke and Mark Bouchard, about the power of discovering women in punk rock, and the journey towards finding and using your voice.
- “Ship of Theseus” by Matthew Erman and Sam Beck, about what it can feel like to occupy a body, any body, that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you.
- “Vicious Constructs,” in which writer Mark Bouchard, artist Jessi Jordan, colorist Ray Nadine, letterer Aditya Bidikar, and editor Michelle Perez adapt lyrics from Leftöver Crack’s Scott Sturgeon into a comic about “identity politics,” anti-fascism, police brutality and institutionalized mental health treatment.
- “Keep Your Cool” by Ray Nadine, which demonstrates healthy friendship practices and the importance of having each other’s backs, as well as the importance of therapy.
- “Thanks, Bastard!” by cover artist Marie Enger, about media misrepresentation of paranoid schizophrenia and punk’s immeasurable impact.
Enger’s comic also includes a line that encompasses the power of Everything Is Going Wrong: “I love punk music. It’s given me a community where I finally felt accepted, a place where humor and energy can be used to mask wildly depressing lyrics. Seriously, read the back of your record sleeves. Those lyrics are sad as shit. But the music is fun as hell? You see where I’m going right?”
There are 43 comics and essays included in Everything Is Going Wrong, each depicting a unique perspective. As mentioned above, some topics in this anthology could be triggering, so if you get a copy, take care. This work is a vital addition to comics as it tackles difficult topics with sensitivity, but also raw authenticity.
If you missed out on the Kickstarter last year, you can order a copy of Everything Is Going Wrong: Comics on Punk & Mental Illness via Storenvy (and get an enamel pin, too!). All proceeds are donated to the Trevor Project and MusiCares. Check out a preview below.