SIDE EFFECTS / SEISMIC PRESS / $17.99 / 128 pages / Color / On Sale 10.05.22
Writer: Ted Anderson
Artist & Colorist: Tara O’Connor
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Tara O’Connor
Hannah doesn’t want to be a hero. She just wants to be well.
Hannah’s dealing with a lot in her first year of college and to make matters worse, she’s also battling her own brain, in the form of anxiety and depression. Fortunately, her therapist has put her on some meds to help, but those meds cause some unintended side effects, like sleepless nights, pounding headaches…
…or, in Hannah’s case, superpowers.
Now, on top of juggling tests and dates, Hannah has to deal with occasionally shooting lightning bolts from her fingers or reading her girlfriend’s mind. Maybe she’s supposed to be a superhero, but all she wants to do is make it through the year in one piece.
Written by Ted Anderson (My Little Pony, Adventure Time: Beginning of the End, ORPHAN AGE, MOTH AND WHISPER) and illustrated by Tara O’Connor (Fly By Night, Roots, Puddles) comes a personal story about mental health and what it takes to find yourself again.
TED ANDERSON ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE IS EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:
“Side Effects is about Hannah, who just started her first year at college and is quickly overwhelmed by her anxiety and depression. She turns to the campus mental health team for therapy and medication, but those meds can have pretty weird side effects – including superpowers. Now, on top of papers and relationships and creepy professors, Hannah has to deal with occasionally shooting lightning out of her fingers or astral projecting in the middle of class. It’s a light-hearted, slightly adventure-y look at mental health and how we get better – and what, ultimately, “getting better” even looks like. This is a really personal book in a lot of ways – I’ve been grappling for years with my mental health and trying to feel “okay” – and I wanted to make a book about my thoughts and feelings that also has a happy ending. (Sorry for the spoiler!)”
TED ANDERSON ON SOME OF HIS INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:
“Parts of this book are based on my own experiences – I also started working on my mental health in college, and I’ve also had to endure a lot of side effects from my medications over the years. Unfortunately, I’ve never gotten superpowers, but I’m still hopeful! I wanted to make a book that reflected some of my own – and others’ – struggles, and which showed that struggling with mental illness is common, important, and treatable. Many of Hannah’s conversations with her therapist and friends are based off my own conversations with others, and her internal monologues are often inspired by my own.”
TED ANDERSON ON WHAT HE HOPES READERS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THIS BOOK:
“I hope that readers will come away from this book feeling hopeful, and maybe even inspired. For people who have struggled with their mental health, I hope this book reminds them that they’re not alone and that their efforts are worthwhile. For those who haven’t, I hope the book gives them a view of what others are dealing with, and a reminder of the kindness we can show each other. And for those who are hesitant about reaching out for help with their issues, I hope that this gives them the push they need, that it shows them what they can achieve with help. I want this book to provide a positive view of mental health treatment, and show that it’s always possible to recover.”
TARA O’CONNOR ON HER APPROACH TO THE ARTWORK:
“It always starts with the script. As I’m reading the script, I get all these visuals of how scenes will play out and get to know our characters first hand. Once I get to know them a bit, I start sketching, I may go through two or three concepts for each character until it clicks and just feels like them.
I draw all the pages in a notebook first – really rough outlines of each panel, just enough to know what’s happening in each one – and then I take a picture, import it to my iPad and start finalizing the pencils. From there I send it over to the computer and into Clip Studio Paint to be inked and colored.”
TARA O’CONNOR ON IF SHE HAS A FAVORITE PANEL/PAGE IN THE OGN AND, IF SO, WHY IT’S HER FAVORITE:
“Oh that’s a tough question! Without spoiling too much, some of my favorite scenes are when Hannah is finding out her “side effects.” She is the queen of awkward facial expressions and her reactions to these new experiences were SO much fun to draw.”
TARA O’CONNOR ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PICKUP THIS BOOK:
“I think everyone could benefit from picking up this book, whether you are someone who struggles with their mental health or know someone who does. There’s still this stigma around taking meds, and while it’s gotten better, it’s still far too prevalent. On a personal level, I wish I had this book growing up ‘cos I think it would’ve made a huge difference in my life to help combat my own stigmas that I had about being on medication that took me far too long to get over.
I think another reason why this book is so important is that it really shows that we’re not alone in our struggles, even though sometimes we truly feel like we are. The more open and the more we talk about them, the more we hear “Oh, wow, that’s me too!” and suddenly things don’t feel as overwhelming.
There’s not enough books out there like SIDE EFFECTS. Anxiety, depression, they’re all talked about in the media but it often doesn’t go beyond the “get help” stage. I think this book really tackles a lot of details that are often overlooked. That there isn’t a one size fits all, and that if that One Thing doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you’re broken, just means you pick yourself up and try something different. That even small progress is still progress.”