Book/Author and Year Published: Everything is Going Wrong edited by Mark Bouchard (2019)
Age/Genre: Comic Anthology
Preferred Reading Environment: A soothing self-care bath. Or a cuddly blanket.
Reading Accoutrements: Your favorite punk music, of course!
Content Notes: Mental Illness, Self-harm, Talk of Suicide and Suicidal Ideation, Gender Dysphoria, Violence, more content notes and trigger warnings included at the beginning of the collection.
Everything is Going Wrong is a collection of comics about punk music and culture and mental illness. It is edited by Mark Bouchard, who ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the anthology. I found out about the crowdfunding campaign through Twitter, and knew almost immediately that I wanted a copy of this book. I don’t fund a ton of Kickstarter campaigns, but this is the third comic anthology I’ve backed on the platform. I just love projects that bring a lot of artists together around a specific subject – and actually pay them!
The campaign was successful and a couple weeks ago, my copy of the anthology came in the mail. I have to say, the production of this book is better than some of the other crowdfunded anthologies I’ve gotten. The cover art is awesome, the pages are high quality and it has a decent binding. It was shipped in a bubble mailer, so the pages weren’t bent (I’ve had that happen before). And best of all, the graphics are in color! I understand color printing is expensive, but I definitely prefer reading comics in color as opposed to black and white, unless they were specifically designed to be black and white.
While I’ve never personally been part of “the punk scene,” I have a lot of friends who have, and I enjoy a lot of the music. Recently, I’ve been enjoying various crust punk bands, so I was excited to see that Days n’ Daze is one of the bands whose members wrote a piece for the collection.
It’s hard to review short comic pieces that rely so heavily on graphics, but there were a few moments I do feel I can explore a bit here:
There was a piece where a performer was told they were too old to be successful in punk music, and they should seek a “more mature genre.” The rest of the piece is spent inside the musician’s head battling self-doubt. This one was short, and didn’t offer any real hope or solutions. I felt like it just showed a piece of the world’s bullshit and ended with a “But we push on” kind of note.
A couple of the pieces mentioned the solace people find in smoking cigarettes. One comic explained that being able to step outside and be alone for a moment helped keep them from getting overwhelmed at shows. I don’t smoke, but I know a ton of people who can relate to this, and I think the line “I’m addicted to the ability to leave almost any place or situation whenever I’m uncomfortable,” really evokes empathy.
The last story explores the reality of paranoid schizophrenia. The artist shares their experiences, and how frustrating people’s reactions to their diagnosis are. Then they talk about how punk music often has sad or dark lyrics set to fun, upbeat music, and that is part of what they love about it. This piece managed to be funny and give a really serious look into schizophrenia at the same time.
A lot of these pieces were autobiographical explorations of where punk and mental illness intersect in the authors’ lives. In some, punk gave hope, or a reason to socialize. In others, punk culture provides community, or performing punk music provides purpose. There are a couple pages that are just letters from musicians, talking about their mental health. One piece puts Leftover Crack lyrics over a comic spread. My only complaint about the collection is that not all of the pieces have titles or authors attached, which makes transitions between works confusing at times. But it was easy to recover, and the content more than made up for this minor flaw in formatting.
Being made up primarily of comics, Everything is Going Wrong was a pretty short read. I finished all the stories (around 30) in less than two hours. But then I went back and re-read half of them, and while writing this review, I kept getting sucked back into re-reading more. If you’re interested in mental health or punk culture at all, you should definitely check out this collection.
Have you ever supported a writing project on a crowdfunding platform? How did you like the final product?