Review of It’s OK Feelings, I Got You: Therapeutic Comic Drawing
by Tikva Wolf
First let me tell you that, as a non-artist, I was afraid of this book. While I can sing and dance, any other form of artistry simply eludes me. I never craft, and my handwriting is so bad sometimes even I can’t read it. My lovely sister got every ounce of artistry between the two of us and makes great use of it, and my primary relationship to art has been to buy it from folks who are selling their own work on the street. The idea of using a book that has drawing in the title never occurred to me. Turns out, Tikva Wolf’s excellent book It’s OK Feelings, I Got You really does not require artistic skill and is accessible even to decidedly non-artistic people like me!
This semester I am teaching at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. When I took the job, I had visions of flitting around Europe between teaching classes, hanging out in the Alps, charming Swiss villages, or Parisian cafes. Then I got to Switzerland and reality struck – Zurich is REALLY expensive and traveling around Europe is quite pricey as well. Just because I am on this continent does not actually mean that I am close to Paris, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin, or Prague. Silly American, learn geography and economics!
Unable to travel as I had anticipated and staying in the most expensive city in Europe (Europeans have nicknamed Zurich Zu Reich, or too rich), I have ended up spending a lot of time either alone in my apartment or walking around the gorgeous city. Rain and darkness falling at 4:30 have curtailed my city wanderings significantly, and the isolation and grayness have begun to take a toll on my emotional wellbeing. Added to that, my usual ways of dealing with emotional distress are not as readily available to me here: my friends, family, and amazing wife are all in the States, I have read all of the brain-candy science fiction written in English that I brought with me, and I sprained my ankle doing a Zumba video I found on You Tube (my poor downstairs neighbors!) so even exercise has become more difficult. As a very mixed blessing, Swiss chocolate is every bit as good as they say it is and appears to be the only thing that is affordable in this city. While I adore chocolate, I am in the process of trying to avoid diabetes so using it as my consolation is not a great idea.
Enter Tikva Wolf’s charmingly accessible book It’s OK Feelings, I Got You: Therapeutic Comic Drawing. Planning ahead to see my teenage children who are coming to meet me in Zurich for Christmas, I brought the book for them thinking that they would enjoy another outlet for their fantastic artistry. Having quickly burned through the paperbacks I had brought to keep myself entertained, I was searching for English reading and came across this little book in my suitcase. At first I was only going to read it to review it on this site, but I quickly became convinced that it was just the thing to keep me company and help my mood in what has turned out to be a challenging temporary relocation.
None of the drawings I have produced are fit for public consumption, but they don’t have to be. Wolf gives her readers permission to use whatever images they want to populate their comic panels, and their easy to follow instructions made the process simple and relaxed. Drawing the comics has helped me feel better and gain some insight into loneliness, something I generally do not feel much when I am in the States surrounded by my excellent support system.
If you are looking for a new way to manage some intense or uncomfortable emotions, communicate with partners, or an inexpensive gift that people probably don’t have but really need, I strongly encourage you to check out this awesome book! While it is good for folks in polyamorous relationships, it is not specific to relationships of any sort and is even great for kids! You can find it here. Even your non-artist friends will thank you!