SID provides an all-too-rare perspective on living with depression from day to day.
Olivia Sullivan’s SID is a glimpse at what the world can look like for someone living with depression. Approaching the story from an emotional standpoint rather than logical, SID’s dreamlike narrative is filled with absurd, sometimes disturbing images that show how depression can affect the most basic aspects of a person’s life. The structure is erratic, told entirely through the protagonist Sid’s perspective as he tries to navigate his routine. Throughout, Sullivan demonstrates an acute understanding of mental illness, using every part of the comic to convey the most irrational and illogical thoughts a person can have.
The comic opens with Sid contemplating his fear of goats, only to move on to the sensation of drinking flat coke. Later, we’re shown an image of demonic nuns. Using the language of comics, Sullivan is encouraging the reader to experience Sid’s stream of consciousness just as he does. She conjures one ostensibly unrelated image after another, creating an overall picture of Sid’s emotional state and inviting the reader to empathise with him.
Sullivan blurs the line between what is real and what is taking place within Sid’s head, turning tasks that might seem simple into nightmares. Picking up medication or cleaning a shirt is shown to instil just as much dread in Sid as the demonic nuns. Regardless of the situation in which Sid finds himself, he is never depicted as being in a place that is safe or welcoming. Even the typical can become warped by his state of mind.
The experience of living with depression is such an ingrained part of SID that it is even present in the colour scheme. Everything in the comic is drawn as if a thin layer of grime was covering it, which gives the art a subdued look. Depression has tainted Sid’s world, draining it of its vibrancy and covering everything in a haze of dullness. This is empathy through colour.
SID conveys the emotional experience of living with depression and how easily it can become all-consuming. Much like depression, it’s frustrating and introspective, and Sullivan uses contrasting images to break down the barriers that surround the illness. In doing so, her work helps to make depression an experience that can be more easily communicated.
Gareth Evans & Josh Franks