Home Graphic novel Brighton author remembers how coma put her on the brink of life

Brighton author remembers how coma put her on the brink of life


Zara, 50, offers a graphic brief, recounting the 15 days she spent in a medical coma after falling seriously ill with a fatal bacterial infection in 2013.

“It’s a double story following my hallucinatory journey, a drug-induced purgatory and sepsis in a coma and the pursuit of family life on the outside as narrated in diary form by my husband Dan. Developed over several years, one of the earliest clips of Coma was shortlisted for the Myriad Award for First Graphic Novel in 2018. A great deal of planning went into the book, from mapping events to character development, and so on. through interviews with friends and family named in the newspapers. the comic strip, the vignette and the final illustration.

“Coma is a story of love, loss and family. It’s a lot about the light and dark of the human condition and what we hold in our deep subconscious, so hopefully it is. will have wide appeal. Beyond that, I think it will be of interest to people in the healthcare field, especially those working in intensive care. Coma opens a window to the potential world of the patient on the verge of life, family life and the crucial role communities play in supporting friends in difficult times.

“Inspired by my medieval-themed hallucinations and fascinated by the role memory, stories and language played in my coma, I explored these ideas visually in my sketchbook. Over time, I realized that there was a connection between my imaginations and the myths of the underworld. Linking these stories to Dan’s diary created a framework that allowed me to correlate them in a comedic form.

“There was no audience in mind when I started writing, I just felt it was an interesting topic and asked a lot of questions. Writing and seeing the finished book revealed answers I never expected to find. I adapted my way of working to adapt to the scale of the book, becoming much more methodical in my practice. From the first sketches to the last touch-ups, it was extremely pleasant. On a project of this size, it helped involve friends in the proofreading and just to see if things were working out. Working with an editor has also been extremely rewarding, and I had the good fortune to work with Corinne Pearlman at Myriad Editions, who is a big advocate of comics.

“The book opens at home with the first entry in Dan’s diary and the day the disease took hold. This follows the first medical meetings and the slowness of the fact that the situation is more serious than initially thought. We soon enter the hospital and the start of a hallucinatory journey into a haunting underworld. Maybe someday I’ll write about rehabilitation. However, this is a stand-alone publication.

“This is my first published graphic novel. I have always drawn and was an educational / editorial illustrator before I started writing short story comics in 2010. Not everything can be expressed in words, and I have always loved using pictures to tell stories and explore characters. Going from illustration to comics seemed like a natural progression.

“Comics and graphic novels are an incredible art form to work in, the interplay between word and image brings drama to the page. Besides being fun, comics can be poignant and thought-provoking, with the ability to make difficult topics accessible.

“Too often we leave our visual literacy behind when we could be richer to embrace it. There are some amazing comic book creators in the UK today in the small press as well as in mainstream publishing. There are so many books that go beyond the typical subject associated with comics, so there is a whole world to explore. “