The graphic novel that will be reviewed is called Boys Don’t Cry by Jacqueline Saville, Mark Pexton and Andrew Woods. This free pdf online graphic novel is from a site called Ostragoth and the link is http://www.ostragoth.co.uk/ebooks/BoysDon%27tCry_ebook.pdf . This graphic novel is about a young teenage boy named Hunter. He recently lost his mom due to a cliff accident. In the beginning of the novel, Hunter is mainly with his friends. The author emphasizes that Hunter is quite anti-social around his peers. Although his friends know he doesn’t say or do much, none of them go as far as to asking him what’s wrong or why he doesn’t speak. His main three friends just seem to brush it off. One day Hunter leaves school early to meet his sister, Catherine, at the train station who was gone away for school. He was very excited to see her. Later that night Hunter has a dream about his mother, one of many that he has throughout the novel. Every time he dreams of his mother, her back is to her and when she turns around her face depicts that of a demonic skeleton. He also dreams of a horse and it is a horse that his mother gave him years before her passing. Throughout the story, Hunter keeps the horse with him wherever he goes. During this particular dream he wakes up and runs to his sister’s room. She is quite upset that he has woken her up at four in the morning and tells him to get out. He then leaves his house afraid of falling back sleep. He wonders to his old neighbourhood where he crosses path with the home of his sister’s friend, Georgina. His memories of her are very comforting to him as he was quite fond of her. At home, Hunter’s father wakes up and it is early morning now. He is worried that Hunter is not home and Catherine tells her father about what had happened during the night. His father breaks down and the narrator begins to tell the reader about Hunter’s mother and her battle with depression. Hunter still on the streets, decides that he is going to visit Georgina. He finally makes it to her school but he is very tired and exhausted. She opens the door for him and he falls into her arms. She is very confused and afraid something was wrong. Hunter explains he just needed her or needed somebody and begins to cry. In the end the narrator states that he drifts into a dreamless sleep.
A main theme in this graphic novel was mental health and stigma. Hunter was suffering from depression after his mother passed away. In the novel he had friends but none of them bothered to ask him what was wrong or how he was feeling. The author clearly points this out in the story where he states that none of his friends would even bother to ask him or even really acknowledges his presence. The novel really starts to get into the actually mental health issue of depression when talking about Hunter’s mother. Hunter’s father describes how his mother seemed less and less happy on the days leading up to her death. Hunter never really shows his emotion through the whole book until the end when he goes to see Georgina. The social stigma that everyone has put on him leads him to a final breaking point. The reader sees in the end that all he really wanted was someone to talk to. Even in the title, it is a clear representation of social stigma that “boys don’t cry”. Another theme in this graphic novel is the use of symbolism. The horse that Hunter’s mother gives to him as a child, Hunter keeps with him wherever he goes. It even follows him into his dreams where it is depicted that Hunter is riding the horse. The horse really symbolizes Hunter in a way that he is trying to be free. He is trying to break through his depression but doesn’t know where to go. He has two dreams in the novel that both involve the horse. The first dream is of just the horse and it encounters a lady. He thinks that it is his mother and as he calls out to the figure it turns around. He then realizes it is a demon-looking skeleton face and that it is not in fact his mother. Another interesting aspect of the characters is that throughout the whole story, Hunter’s character has no face. All the other character’s faces are depicted as human faces but Hunter has no face. He has no visible human features on his face. This represents his struggle of finding himself. Since his mother died, he became isolated and distant from reality. He tried to come back but had no one to reach out to, to help him.
The most obvious visual storytelling is that the novel is formatted in black and white. The black and white drawing of the characters left a lot of room for interpretation. A lot of the panels were drawn in such a way that it was hard to understand what it was trying to depict. This was confusing for the reader at first. But as one continued reading it started to all come together. The author formatted the novel in a sequence of the writing story and then the visual story. So whilst reading the received information, the perceived information would follow. This allowed for the gaps to be filled in by the reader. The only use of colour in the novel was the colour of purple by a flower that appeared in scenes where Hunter was having dreams. This represented figuratively his dreams. He ultimately wanted to break free some his depression but couldn’t find a way how. He found a way at the end of the novel when he goes to see Georgina.
Overall this graphic novel was an easy and in-depth read. The use of descriptive writing from the author helps project and portray Hunter’s character. The simple way that this novel depicts the growing concern of depression is interesting. It is clearly the main theme of the graphic novel. Readers interested in becoming aware of what it’s like to live with depression should grab this easy and quick read.