Mental Illness-themed Graphic Novel to be Adapted for Film

Hands up if your mother refused to buy you "graphic novels" because she assumed they were sexually explicit.



Keep those hands raised if she also thought the same thing about "Blu-ray" films (I love you, Mom).


To clear up any lingering confusion, graphic novels are simply novels (but can also be non-fiction) that are literally graphic — meaning the story unfolds comic book-style through a mixture of text and illustrations. The genre seems to be everywhere these days, thanks in part to the booming popularity of comic book culture and massive annual events like San Diego's Comic Con International — where author and illustrator Nate Powell won the Eisner Award for Best Original Graphic Novel in 2009 for his book Swallow Me Whole.



Just one of Powell's successful graphic novels, Swallow Me Whole centers around the story of step-siblings navigating both adolescence and mental illness. Schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, family strife, the ups and downs of medication — Powell explores it all with an artful subtlety that captured the interest and imagination of recent UCLA directing grad Luke Slendebroek, who will be directing the forthcoming independent feature.


"Nate instantly pulled me in with his artwork," says Slenderbroek, “However, on a deeper level, what resonated with me most about Swallow Me Whole was Nate’s delicate and fantastical portrayal of mental illness. … What I hope to accomplish with this film is to raise awareness about mental illness, as well as help facilitate a dialogue of what it means to be mentally ill in America."


Producer Preston Reeves is still working to secure the film's cast, crew, and funding, but Powell, who considers Swallow Me Whole "the creation that's closest to my heart," has already written the screenplay and intends to stay closely attached to the project.


"It was so satisfying to revisit these characters, give them new opportunities to breathe, and in some cases, chances to make different choices altogether," says Powell. 


We wish Powell and his team luck as they embark upon what promises to be a beautiful and impactful project. You can follow along with the progress of Swallow Me Whole through Powell's website.



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