Anthony: hello and welcome to Capes on the Couch where come get Counseling. I’m Anthony Sytko.
Doc Issues: And I’m Dr. Issues.
Anthony: This is another creators on the Couch episode. We are breaking away. We are finally finished up our lantern month. Hope everybody enjoyed our discussions of all of our various lanterns.
And if you’re not already a patron, you can go ahead and subscribe to patreon.com/capes in the couch and unlock the bonus content and the extra additional episode that was just released for patrons. But here we’ve got a, a fantastic story. A lot of times when we bring on creators, we talk to them just about general stories that they’ve written, and it’s mostly superhero esque in that kind of realm.
We talk a little bit about the mental health stuff, but very rarely do we have the honor and privilege of discussing a comic book that is very focused on mental health. And with us is the writer of side effects. Ted Anderson. Ted, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us tonight.
Ted Anderson: Ah, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me on. Although I thought I was gonna be talking about my issue of my Little Pony in which Twilight Sparkle goes into Big Macintosh’s mind to understand his work ethics and mentality. You know, ,
Doc Issues: you know, you know, to be honest, you’re talking to two guys that really would dive into that if we had like, honestly amount of time
Ted Anderson: I would love to. I’m, I’m only half joking. Obviously I wanna talk about side effects, but really that was one of my favorite issues to write because it was all about mental health from the perspective of cartoon horses. And one of them was a unicorn. But anyway, yes.
Welcome . Glad Yeah. Yeah. That’s everybody up .
Anthony: That is very true. And it’s funny because I, I do actually appreciate the, the friendship is magic run of My Little Pony. I was low-key brony. I wasn’t into necessarily all of the, the big stuff and maybe some of the more. Interesting aspects of the fandom, but I did really appreciate the show while it was on.
Oh yeah. I haven’t actually read any of the, the comic unfortunately, but you, you are actually the second writer of My Little Pony that we’ve had on the show, because we did talk to Jeremy Whitley, of
Ted Anderson: course, I was about to say was it was the only Jeremy Whitley.
Anthony: Yes. . Yes. So Jeremy talk to Jeremy. Previously we didn’t talk to him about My Little Pony.
We talked to him about unstoppable Wasp. But I do know that he’s done a lot of work in the pony realm and Oh yeah, you yourself have, have done quite a bit there as well.
Ted Anderson: I just thought I’d like him for you to bring it up and talk about my experience. But yeah, , no, thank you very much for having me out.
And Jeremy, actually, Jeremy and I are also buds on Twitter. We’ve shared things back. Well, of course. Wait a minute, I should say he also gave the cover quote for, I guess it’s the back cover quote for Yes, he did. Side effects. So, I mean, he was very gracious that I appreciated his help with that. So Yeah,
Anthony: Well that’s one of the things that we’re gonna discuss, it’s in the show notes, is.
some of the parallels, at least that I saw between something, some of the things that happened in your story and some of the stuff that happened to Nadia VanDyne in the unstoppable wasp, especially with respect to the bipolar and the, the manic episodes and things of that nature. But, we’ll get to that.
It’s, kind of coming all full circle here and proof that for once. I actually did do some research and, cause it’s in the show notes. I, I swear . But so, you’ve written My Little Pony we were talking a little bit before we, started recording that, that comics is not your full-time day job, but what comics have you written in addition to, to some of the work you’ve done on my little.
Ted Anderson: Okay. So yeah, My Little Pony was my first professional work. I then also had two series come out from Aftershock one called Mohan Whisper and the other called Orphanage both of which actually, I mean, they kind of have a psychological edge to them and that they’re, they’re about people with various kinds of traumas, having to deal with them but not as mental health focused as some of the other stuff.
But. Then my next, my actual first original graphic novel was from Learner Publishing. That was a book called The Spy Who Raised Me. That was a middle grade ya novel about a girl who discovers that her mother is secretly a secret agent and that so is she. And she’s been brainwashed by her mother the whole time and has like a Manchurian candidate secondary personality that she doesn’t know about.
So yeah, actually there’s a lot of mental health stuff in the stuff I’ve been writing. , I’ve done some other work on licensed comics. I briefly did some work on some of the Adventure Time comics and then a little bit on one of the Amazing World of Gumballs specials. And then This is my most recent and biggest book to date, which is from Aftershocks Seismic Press Imprint, which is, its middle grade Ya imprint specifically for schools, libraries, and that kind of thing.
And it’s a book I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. It’s a little bit inspired by my own experiences, which is a weird thing to say about a book with superpowers, but we’ll get to that . But it’s, it’s a book that, spoke to something that I’ve experienced and I wanted to try and bring out and talk about in a way that was seen through the fantastic Veil of comics, but, About reality in a broader sense.
Anthony: yeah, that’s, that’s great. And I have to say, the aftershock as a publisher in general, I’ve read some of the stuff that’s come out of there. I, I confess, I haven’t read some of the other titles that you, you’ve mentioned, but I will definitely be picking them up because I have found that for.
You know, one of the, the non big two, or even I would say, cause you’ve got Marvel in DC and then right below that, I would say, no disrespect to to publishers, but you’ve got like I D W and, and Dark Horse and things of that nature. But, but for a smaller publisher, aftershock has really been doing some incredible work and they have been releasing some fantastic stories lately.
I’m trying to remember one of the other books I read that was from After Shock, was it hell is a Squared Circle, I think was was After Shock.
Ted Anderson: Yes, it was.
Doc Issues: That was, that was, yes, it is. I know, and I know this because Anthony gave me the freaking copy of it. .
Anthony: Well, because we’re, we’re trying to get that that creator on for, for a crossover with another podcast as well.
But like I said, it just seems like the ogn that I’ve picked up from from Aftershock, as of late, have been solid. So I don’t know if it’s just that they’re, attracting the particular talent and, and assembling these creative teams, or just from, from an editorial perspective, that they’re saying like, these are the kinds of stories that we’re looking to tell, to fill in the gaps that are, I don’t wanna say ignored or neglected by the big two or some of the bigger publishers, but maybe, maybe wouldn’t be As flashy, whatever, but, but there is some solid stuff coming out from, from aftershock as of late.
They’re definitely one, one of my favorite studios over the past like two years.
Ted Anderson: Oh yeah. No, absolutely. They’ve been great to work with. I’m really happy I’ve been able to publish with them because they’ve always been interested in the ideas.
I bring them and they always have interesting ways of bringing them out and, and making them shine in a cool way. I like, I mean this book in particular, this was going to be another potential like five or six issue mini-series, but then eventually the idea was, well, it’s close enough to ya and it basically is ya.
Mm-hmm. . So let’s put it out in this slightly different format and see what the idea is and see what the market thinks of it, because it would fit in. I, I would love to see it fitting into colleges and universities using it as a way to talk about mental health for incoming students. I should say I’m not trying to position myself as, as somebody who knows a whole lot about, I, I don’t have a psych, I don’t have any sort of a mental health degree or background.
I just am somebody who’s gone to therapy a bit. But after I wrote this, I’m like, this might be a thing that could be used for such purposes if you were inclined to find a book for your incoming freshman to read this, I’m, Hey, maybe, you know, you never know.
Anthony: You, you absolutely could do a college course on utilizing the intersection of comic books and mental health just From, from a psychological perspective, the, the depictions of various disorders and things of that nature in, in graphic media, I mean, in media in general, absolutely you could do an entire curriculum on it, and that’s kind of one of the reasons why we do this show.
Ted Anderson: Oh, yeah. I have a personal theory that comics are one of the best possible ways, or one of the best possible media to depict graphic medicine. Well graph memoirs in general, but specifically medicine or medical memoirs. Cause, well, because it’s produced by usually just a single person, which means you get their unfiltered experience of what it’s like to live with a particular condition or having under undergone a particular trauma or experience.
Everything is, it’s seen as though it’s third person. You are seeing this person usually interacting with the rest of the world, but you can never forget that. You’re seeing it still through their eyes. And so you get works like oh, what’s the name of it? Marbles by I am blanking on her name, but it’s a, a creator who, a woman who discovered that she had bipolar disorder and made that into the focus of the book.
She was working Julia K Oh my god. I’m gonna kick myself for not knowing this name at the top of my head, but also there’s a,
Anthony: we’ll include it in the show notes,
Ted Anderson: of course. And then there was a smaller publisher a book called Barking out of the UK that was really great. That was just about a, a woman’s dealing with depression.
I mean, and then of course you have things like epileptic or God, a dozen graphic medicine memoirs. You can, throw a dart at the shelf in your local barns and nobles, and you’re gonna find a memoir, deal with medical issues. But I really, I mean, there’s something about comics as a medium that makes it really, I think, effective to tell those stories that are at once.
Intensely personal and can be universal in understanding how these symptoms would apply to you or to anyone else. So yeah, I think comics are uniquely positioned in being able to, to depict that. And as such, it’s a great way to talk about how we experience our symptoms, whatever those symptoms are
Anthony: very well stated.
So you mentioned a little bit that this was a story that you wanted to tell that was personal to you, , and you’ve referenced that and, the afterward you know, sort of like why that I write this story and things of that nature and how you, you used this as, I don’t wanna say catharsis, but just to be able to, to express some of that stuff.
How long have you been, I guess, kind. Plotting and, and thinking about this the story in your, in your head.
Ted Anderson: That’s a really good question. If I were more dedicated, I could probably find out because like I know the specific inspiration for what made me think of this premise. So the premise of the book, I should just to explain for people I haven’t read it.
The premise of the book is it’s about Hannah, who’s a first year student in college. She starts exhibiting sy symptoms of anxiety and depression. She goes to campus mental health services. She starts therapy, she starts medication. Some of those medications give her side effects, and some of those side effects include superpowers.
So she’s able to shoot lightning out of her fingers, or she’s able to read people’s minds or turn into an astral ghost form or that kind of stuff. And the specific inspiration for it was I for, I’ve, since c since my first year of college, or no, since my third year of college, early, since, since my college days, I’ve been on various types of psychotropic medication, including, and most recently I’ve been on.
It’s a particular class of medication. I don’t remember which one it is, but it’s one of the ones where one of the known symptoms is, or side effects is if you accidentally, if you miss a dose or if you’re withdrawing from it, you get, you get electric shocks. You get electric shocks. Yes. And that was the thing, like I, I noticed this whenever I like accidentally missed a day or whatever.
Yep. There’s a very specific type of headache you get. Yeah. And I looked, yeah. And I looked it up and I discovered that the term for this was brain zaps. And yeah,
Doc Issues: SNRIs, that’s the category. SNRIs, serotonin and nor and norepinephrine reuptake
Ted Anderson: inhibitors. Yes. Yeah. And I was, I was kind of glad to find out that, you know, everybody else was experiencing these same things.
It was normal. I was a little bit disappointed to fig to find out that the medical community could only come up with the phrase Brains Zs for this, because it was like, what’s the Calvin and Hobbs strip? Where he was looking up the the, the Big Bang theory, and he’s like, and they could come up with a better name for it.
If I were in charge. It’d call it the Horrendous Space Kalu, you know, and it’s, I wish that there was a better or cooler name for it, but that was the inspiration because then I’m like, you know, at the very least it should give me the ability to do actual electric electrics apps. And then, huh. You can make a comic about that.
So it’s, it’s been a few years. It was definitely inspired by my time in, in the therapy trenches, in the mental health trenches, which started. In college and probably should have started sooner, but the specific inspiration would’ve been a few years ago. I don’t actually know. And it kind of just, it sprung full formed out of, there was the idea of like, what if your medications gave you superpowers?
Because I also realized that inherently pushed back on a trope that I really, really despise, which is whenever in a movie or book or whatever, a character goes on medication and it, you know, it kills their personality or it makes them so they can’t feel anything or they can’t do the thing they love.
And it’s, you know, oh, suffering me. I can’t take my meds because it’ll kill the artist in me. I really hate that trope. I really hate any depictions along those lines where it’s about like, yeah, the medications may make you feel better, but then you’re not a person anymore.
I just, I hate, I hate that. I hate that so much. and this book ended up being a sort of natural. Counter counterpoint to that argument. I mean, it’s fantastic and it’s silly and it’s, you know, it’s ified, but it’s, that’s the counterpoint to it, is like, yeah, that might happen, but meds also may give you strengths that you didn’t know you had in the first place.
So, yeah, it’s, I, if I had to put a data, I don’t know, four or five years ago, I remember talking to my editor Christina Harrington at Chicago Comic-Con, just before Covid, maybe the year before Covid. So that gives you something of a timeline. But yeah, four years before and five years, something like that.
Yeah, it’s, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I can’t give a better date for it than that, but it’s something that’s always been in my head.
Anthony: All right. Well, I wasn’t looking for, you know, specific date and time. Okay. It’s, you know, September 16th, 8 37. The, the inspiration struck in, I was immediately put pen to paper.
Ted Anderson: I would like to be precise if I could. It’s just like I didn’t, I couldn’t check my internet browsing records cuz I remember looking up on Wikipedia, I’m like mm-hmm. You know, medication, headaches, something. Yeah. Like I, the name of the medication I was taking and it just led me to the Wikipedia
It’s like, man, as soon as you started describing it, I knew Doc was gonna know exactly what you were talking about because that’s, that’s his daily wick .
Ted Anderson: Oh yeah. And that’s the thing that is, like I said, sort of comforting is knowing that, yeah, it’s a very common symptom. It’s a, a lot of people experience it, it sucks and like, but knowing that I’m not, I’m, my brain isn’t broken in any like, significant way.
Right. It’s. Source of great comfort. Yeah, it’s,
Doc Issues: it’s a, it’s a fantastic point. And, and as a doctor I can say all the conversations that I have with patients, and I’ll be very honest I, I’m usually dealing with that other side of it that you mentioned, people that typically either don’t want to take medications or have taken medications and stopped.
And in my case, since I work in a hospital full-time, it’s like, okay, but this is, this is kind of the result. So, yeah. You know, maybe, maybe we ought go a different direction, you know, so.
Ted Anderson: Yeah. And they do, I mean, I should be clear that like this is, this is still largely based on my own experiences.
This is based on experiences with medication for, I don’t wanna say simple conditions, but anxiety and depression are relatively sort of understood conditions that have known side effects and known effects. and this is not dealing with more significant mental health issues or, you know, medications that can do more long-lasting damage.
Like it’s, it’s still a very limited perspective. This is obviously a pretty small view of what medication and mental health can be like. But I just wanted to give a mental health story that had a happy ending, that had an ending in which it showed that, yeah, growth is possible.
You know, acceptance of yourself and being able to overcome these issues is entirely possible. It’s tough and it sucks and it’s not gonna like what you imagined, but it can be done. So I wanted to at least give it something of a happier note because there are plenty of unhappier stories out there.
Anthony: Absolutely. And we’ve all had our fair share of experiences with. So, so Hannah, obviously the, the main character, the p o v character, the one who was undergoing all these changes, she is, I guess, the closest thing to an author avatar in this I guess one of the questions I had is, what made you create Hannah as opposed to something that was a little more straightforward author avatar ish than
Ted Anderson: That is a good question. The majority of protagonists that come up with are, are women. I mean, I don’t know if that’s left over from, again, having worked on my a pony where I could do entire storylines at which I didn’t have a male character on the page . But I mean, joking aside, like I do tend to default to having a female protagonist, and I don’t really know why that is.
I mean, in parts, there’s elements of Hannah that are.
So I mentioned that this is a somewhat more limited look at what mental health treatment and therapy and medication can look like. And part of that is also, Hannah is a less, she’s a less complicated narrative than someone like me might be. She’s, kind of a small town girl in a larger environment.
She doesn’t necessarily have a super supportive family, although they’re not getting her way either. She has a shyer aspect and a. Threatening as not threatening. She has ashire and less outgoing aspect than even I did, even when I was at my at my worst, as you might say. But a lot of it comes down to the idea of having a protagonist who’s relatively easy to sympathize with and also is, I’m trying to think of a better way to put this other than just she’s a white girl, like the
I mean, the narrative is relatively uncomplicated in the sense that she’s a, a someone who it’s easy to see as, as fragile and someone who’s easy to see that they’re suffering and going through issues and isn’t compelled to put up a brave front or a strong front, or hasn’t already been dealing with difficult issues on a larger scale.
I don’t know. This might be going a little too deep for the shot. . I dunno if, I dunno if I wanna talk about this too deep. Cause there are, there are, if there are implications in the Yeah, . I, I hear you.
Doc Issues: This show deals with that tightrope all the time. And so we have definitely crossed back and forth on that line.
So anything that you’ve said, I guarantee you we have gone way deeper, so don’t worry.
Ted Anderson: Okay. , that’s good to hear. I did a, a research paper for my graduate thesis or for my graduate school on transgender representation in like, ya Fiction.
There was a book that the author talked about the fact that she made her main character kind of a, you know a non-threatening white girl because it was sort of the stealth aspect of trying to what is the way to most easily insert this narrative into the minds of readers who might be otherwise hostile to or otherwise?
Uncooperative with the narrative .
Doc Issues: That’s, yeah. And that, that, I appreciate the honesty on that cuz that’s, you know, that, that’s, that’s the reality of the world we’re in.
Ted Anderson: So, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. There’s, there’s a lot of this book that was on the cutting room floor, and I mean, even with I was actually talking with Jeremy Whitley about this, about one of the things that he brought up that I would have loved to have covered is that often psychiatric diagnoses or psychiatric medication can and have been used, have been weaponized against people of marginalized groups.
I mean, there’s a whole book that I’ve, I’ve been meaning to read that I haven’t yet, about how schizophrenia as a diagnosis was transformed into something that could be used against, like, civil rights leaders and mm-hmm. quote unquote aggressive blacks in the United States and like mm-hmm. . Yeah.
There’s a long history of medications and therapy being used against people who would not otherwise be able to, to speak for themselves or who are in some way challenging the status quo. And that’s not what this book is. , this book is, is sort of by definition, a less complicated look at that. And it’s only 120 pages.
I had a very specific page count, so there’s a lot that I had to cut out that I would’ve loved to get into because there’s also, I mean, I wanted to have conversations about, you know, I had a character who had a schizophrenic mother, and I wanted to talk about their issues with that. Hannah’s roommate Ella is a trans woman, and I wanted to talk about that and how it relates to other mental health issues and how we position gender identity in relation to a mental health issue and whether those are synonymous or not.
And that’s a very fraught definition as well. But like, there’s a lot that I, I would love to go into on a broader stage, in a bigger forum, that this book is, this book is an introduction to the topic. This book is an introduction to the idea of mental. Can be very scary to talk about.
There is help available. It will take time and it will take work, but you can overcome the difficulties that are presented in front of you. So yeah,
Anthony: it’s, it’s a lot. And , you know, it’s funny, you, you say it’s 120 pages because it doesn’t read that way. I don’t mean that in a, in a pejorative sense at all.
I mean that, in the sense that it flows very, very straightforward and, you don’t feel even at the end of it, you’re like, wow, this 120 pages, it’s, it’s like sitting through, you know, like a two and a half hour movie, but it, it zips through and you’re like, I, how long was my ass in that seat?
you know, that kinda deal. Again, it’s not a bad thing, there’s always something going and it doesn’t. There’s no drag to the narrative. There’s no point when you’re like, oh, when are we gonna, oh, she’s going back to the doctor’s office again. Like, there’s dragging on there’s no excess in the story. Everything, every panel, every word, every page is designed to move the narrative forward and to tell the story. And I think that’s a, obviously a credit to you and the rest of the creative team will get into that in a little bit.
I like it. You did your job in, credit to your editor as well for keeping it tight and and concise.
Ted Anderson: Yeah. Especially credit, especially to Christina Harrington because she incidentally helped me. Take the finale in a completely different direction than I originally had.
That makes it work so much better. So not to spoil anything, I, I don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but she, she gave me an idea that works so much better for how the book should end. That really, I think made it come together as a whole. And it’s my my mother was for many years being an editor and she always likes to say she’s quoting someone else, but I do remember who said it.
But it’s not that God is in the details, God is in the structure. And when it comes to editing, like it is so important to know going in, oh, it’s gonna be this, then this, then this. And in this case, like in this book, and there’s a natural structure in that. It is about one medication after another, one session after another.
She’s going through her semester bit by bit. There’s a progression in that sense. Like it’s never unclear what’s going to happen next because there’s always a new medication around the corner, sometimes to the detriment, because I did, I noted this in the back better too, but like she’s switching on and off medications on like a monthly basis, which medically I know is not advisable
And there’s a lot of issues with that. But like for the sake of the narrative, I had to move things along.
Anthony: Yeah. Yeah. That’s definitely one of the, things I, I commented when we were gonna get into Dr. Jacobs, I was like, it seems like she’s changing medication frequently. Never gives an opportunity to, to take hold.
And that was something I was gonna really kind of defer to Doc, but even me as a lay person, I’m reading this going, eh, just doesn’t seem kosher. Yeah.
Doc Issues: I do have some some opinions on this . Well, no, no, for the story, it’s fantastic. And on an outpatient basis, I would tend to agree that that’s pretty rapid.
There is though, there are two things I, I wanted to say about this. Once again, as I mentioned, I work in a hospital and so actually we do a lot of changes and but the point is like, look, we literally have nurses, 24 7 doctors available 24 7. Anything that happens, anything that goes wrong, anything is such, such as a hiccup.
We will fix it, we will look to, try and alleviate whatever is going on. And we do have the opportunity then to increase or adjust doses as necessary on a much quicker pace than you would in an outpatient setting. So I am used to that. So I do understand that. And, and I also work compared to a story like this, I work with other medication classes that sometimes can produce, as you said, like can produce some pretty serious side effects if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, you know, we, we carefully monitor that. The other thing that I was going to say is not to I don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of what I do. I’m proud of my profession, but at the same time, there are some people, and, and you always have to find the right fit. There are some people that are a little trigger happy in terms of what they do.
And so it, it does create this dynamic almost in a customer service, people pleasing fashion where it’s like, oh, you say you have this, okay, here you go. Oh, but you have this side. All right, here’s this on top. All right, well nevermind that, but we’ll go back to this other thing. And, oh, you said you can’t sleep.
Here’s this. So yes, those people exist. Those providers do exist. And I’m not saying that as an insult to them either. Cause I know they’re doing the best they can. It’s just that you know, sometimes it’s garbage and garbage out, no, because, cause it works both ways.
There are some providers that are, that have a natural tendency to act that way. And then there are also situations where a patient is kind of seeking out certain things and then it kind of leads down this path. And if the provider isn’t careful, they just kind of follow that natural progression for their own sake.
And, it goes where it goes. The thing that I’ll say, as I was reading this, I was even thinking to myself, if you take this in a different direction, and I know this is not what the book does, I’m like, , you could create an interesting antagonist. There was no point in doing that with this type of book, but I was like, what if you did have a doctor that really intentionally was, was like manipulating things like this.
I’m like, oh man, , that’s, that’s a fascinating idea.
Ted Anderson: I was actually wondering, I’ve been thinking of like knowing that I was coming on the show made me think of like, oh man, what comic book psychiatrist can I think, or therapists or any other mental health providers and like, the only two I could think off the top of my head was like, doc Samps.
And then oh no. Like, I actually, one of my favorite parts of Doc Sampson was from Warren Ellis did a run on Thunderbolts during, like the Civil War era where he comes in. Yeah. And he comes in and talks to, to pendants, speedball, mm-hmm. . That was a great little sequence where it’s like, oh, that’s actually how you do mental health in a, in a.
Not a non-professional, but like in a, yeah, in a casual environment. Yeah. Mm-hmm. like mm-hmm. . But the other psychiatrist I was thinking about off the top of my head was from Grant Morrison’s seven Soldiers Maxi Series, the Mr. Miracle miniseries. It would Mr. Miracle’s. Therapist is specifically like working for Dark Side, trying to keep him mm-hmm.
like, keep his ego broken and like make sure he’s a broken man through all of it. Like there’s, there’s not a lot of good psychiatrists out there Yeah. In comics at least. I mean, that’s, yeah, no, you’re right. You’re right. One of the other, I do wanna also give a, shout out to one of the, other good depictions that I can think of from pop culture, which was for, I, I watched most of the seasons of H B O series in treatment with Gabriel Byrne, and then they hit Oh, absolutely.
Doc Issues: We used, I’m, I’m gonna go ahead and I’ll just say it. We actually used parts of those episodes during my residency training.
Ted Anderson: Yes. I watched that, and then I also read, there was a blog at the time of somebody who was going through each episode talking about like, well, you know, sometimes it was as simple as like the setup of the space.
Like I would have separate entrances and exits or like, I would maybe not have these objects visible or whatever, but like, That show was really a fascinating look at how do you, not only how do you do mental health treatment, but also how do you depict it in a way that’s interesting, which is a whole separate set of issues.
But like, yeah, that that wasn’t exactly an inspiration. I didn’t look at a specific character from that, but just the idea of how these characters interact for half an hour and then how do you show that and make it interesting was, yeah, that was in, that was a really, that was a really powerful inspiration.
So anyway, so just wanna give a shout at one of my favorites .
Anthony: I, I had had not watched that show, but seems like Doc is very, very aware of that. And I’ll have to go back and reread that Thunder Bolt run then because.
Ted Anderson: It’s, it’s mixed overall, but like that specific, like there’s two or three issues where Doc Sampson shows up and he also gets to, you know, punch some villains in the face, which is always fine.
So, you know, ,
Anthony: you gotta have some punching . At least, at least when it comes to, to Doc Sampson. Yeah. I think at one point docs like he was gonna have a, a blog or something like that called like, doc Sampson Is Is Right, or
Doc Issues: Yeah, doc sampson is always right. It, it was, I mean obviously it was a play on it cuz there were plenty of things I disagreed with him about, but it was just this idea like, you know, if you’re gonna be a psychiatrist in comics, like go ahead and kick ass
Ted Anderson: Yeah. , you’re gonna have to at some point if we consider your clients. Yeah,
Anthony: exactly. Exactly. I mean, we, we get into that on the show, on the regular. One of the other things that I, I liked in this book was the depiction of Hannah and dealing with her, her powers and. I mean, this may have just been my own personal interpretation, but I feel like the book kind of very much plays with the idea of are the powers real or in her head and I, I definitely got that vibe that sometimes we were meant to think, maybe this is just kind of how she’s envisioning these things going.
There are definitely things that happened where there’s another person involved the, incident in the computer lab the zapping and stuff like that. But there were other times where I felt like from, from a depiction standpoint, maybe it was, I don’t wanna say it was completely fictional, but may have been like unreliable narrator syndrome, where like we’re seeing this from her perspective, but maybe it’s not exactly as, She’s envisioning it.
And I didn’t know how much of that was intentional, if that was just my own interpretation after years of reading Moon night, where there was always a question is can you real? Is he not? Whoa, who knows?
Ted Anderson: It’s I, ooh, I kind of always wanted it to be real. Sorry to . Sorry to immediate.
Anthony: No, and that’s fine. You’re like the word of God here, so if you’re telling me I’m completely wrong, then, then so be it.
Ted Anderson: I’m trying to think if I ever, like, if I ever seriously consider the alternative, because I like the idea of genuinely having to deal with alterations to your physical state, to how you interact with people physically, to how you’re moving around in the world as, as part of getting better is just understanding more, oh, you know, I don’t like being in large crowds.
In this case, because I’m telepathic or like I don’t, like being in small confined spaces in this case because I have electric shocks. But those are elements of, of mental health treatment. But I also, I wanted to maintain a relatively light tone because again, I wanted this to be something with a happy ending.
And part of that was ensuring that there was never a question of, well, is she, and this is this, this is not how we should phrase things. Of course. But is is she crazy? Right. You know, is she imagining this whole thing? Is, is it all right? Right. Yeah. And again, I know that’s not the proper psychological term.
I should, why back off on it, but , I didn’t ever want it to be a question of like, is Hannah experiencing unreality? Because that would impart a darker, cast over the whole book. It would make it a different kind of book that would make it a little more, not sinister Exactly.
But it would, it, it would be a different approach that mm-hmm. , this book just was not sort of equipped for. So I liked having it be real, and I wanted it to sort of be never questioned. Like this is, this is something else I’ve talked about several times, is that even though it’s real, I never, and this is sort of a spoiler in the sense that it’s a non spoiler, but I never, there’s no actual explanation for why this is happening, for why she getting into these side effects.
There’s no like, oh, it’s a sinister conspiracy, or, oh, the pharmacy is accidentally putting toxic waste at these things. No, it’s just, it just happens to her and that’s something she has to deal with because that kind of keeps it on the level of just, well, this is another thing I have to deal with. In addition to being so depressed, I can’t get outta bed.
I also occasionally Astr project and so forth, , like, I wanted it to just be a. Kind of unquestioned and, and it happens and you gotta, you just gotta figure it out. And it’s just another, it’s just another damn thing you gotta deal with. Yeah. And that, that makes, that makes a lot of
Doc Issues: sense. And, and it really does, you know, to, to bring it back into our
Ted Anderson: world,
Doc Issues: that is a lot of what life is because there are things that there, there’s a potential therapy trap that both the therapist and the client or patient can fall into where you get so much involved in the why, like, okay, but why am I this way?
Or why did this happen? Or why did I do this? Like, yes, it’s nice if you have those answers. The reality is you may not get those. and you don’t wanna spend week after week after week going down this detective rabbit hole that’s not gonna be fruitful. As opposed to enjoying the fact that the things that were problematic for you are getting better.
Can you focus on the moments that are, clearly working for you, the things that are working for you and that you wanna continue to work for you and, and do that? Or do you wanna go on along this red herring path that says like, but if you never know exactly when that trauma happened in this moment and all, and all of that, you know, it obviously that can be very important.
And I know for certain conditions and certain things, it is important to, to talk about those things. I’m not saying they’re not important, I’m saying that especially what, once they’re happening and you’re dealing with the things in the moment, it’s like, all right, cool. Be there. be there, be grateful for what it is now
Ted Anderson: as opposed to just dwelling in all that other stuff.
I didn’t quite think of it in that, in those terms, but like that, that idea that it, it doesn’t much matter why it’s happening, it just matters how you’re dealing with it is something that I think it really informed how it was doing this, cuz there’s a constant refrain in this book of like, characters are always asking, are you okay?
You know, Hannah asked this, somebody asked this if Hannah, Hannah to ask this if somebody else, it’s like one of the first things said in the book, and it’s one of the last things said in the book. It was important because, I mean, it’s that the most basic element of therapy is that talk element of what are you feeling?
Are you feeling? Okay. Whatever. Okay. Looks like at the moment, whatever. Okay. Looks like for you. And just being able to talk about it is always like that first step. And so I wanted it to be, yeah. From like from minute one and throughout the book, that is, that’s the question that’s going through all of this.
Are you Okay? And then the various answers that you get, and sometimes none nonw, but yeah. That like, yeah. The why doesn’t matter. It’s, it’s the, it’s the what are you doing with it and how are you dealing with it is, yeah. Oh, that’s good.
Anthony: I that I, I really liked that statement though, that, are you okay?
And Okay is different for everybody and I think that is such a, an important thing. And it’s obviously one of the things that we discussed on the show is comparison is not going to help you get better. Doc says all the time, comparison is the thief of joy. And it’s true because. We tend to get so caught up, especially with social media now, and everybody’s making all these posts and then you see all these posts and oh my gosh, somebody went on vacation and they got, you know, however many hundred likes and this person is doing this and that person’s doing that.
And here I am, being just, a slob and a bump on a log and a waste of space and yada yada. And you, you create all these negative thoughts and, we say all the time on the show that we compare our, behind the scenes stuff to everybody’s highlight reel.
And that’s not how it works and that’s not how it should be. And so I really appreciate you drive, kind of driving that home and saying, you know, that okay, what, what constitutes okay is different for every person and it’s gonna be different for you on a given day that what is okay one day may not always necessarily be okay another day.
Yeah. Another thing that, that I also appreciated with Hannah, especially, You know, and it’s not too much of a spoiler you know, over the, the grant text of the story. But when she’s getting ready to take that first medication and she, she takes it and she’s like, it just immediately transforms and it’s, I’m cured.
This is great. Everything is wonderful. And like you, you sort of create this glossy narrative that this medication is gonna solve everything. That’s how I felt when I first took ad when I first took Adderall because of my A D H ADHD and the very first day I took it, I, I texted a couple people and I, I believe I texted Doc as well and I was like, I feel like a God right now.
They gave me such, this, this clarity of focus and I was like, I had never had that before for decades. And all of a sudden it was just like, huh. So I just. On a personal level, I absolutely appreciated that insert of that, that short little sequence, those, I dunno, five, six panels or whatever it is before.
And then, you know, then she comes crashing back down to reality and she’s like, well, all right now whenever, I’m just gonna go take it. But just that acknowledgement because I think that’s such a relatable thing for any of us who have taken medication for for mental disorders or, or even sought treatment, that you view it as this magic elixir that is just going to all of a sudden snap its fingers and cure you quote unquote, or fix you.
Yeah. And that is in no way, shape or form. Semblance of reality. But I do appreciate that from a fantastical perspective, you included that because I was like, okay, I feel seen here, . Yeah.
Ted Anderson: Well, and it’s also, I love being on Tumblr, which is another side of mental illness. That was a joke.
But there’s a, there’s a Post-it float around Tumblr every now and then where somebody’s saying something like, oh my God, I just started a D H V D medication. They did do a list of all the things that just changed about me, and then they just reblog it and immediately say, oh my God, I’m actually making a list.
That’s how much this has changed me. And so, yeah, with some medications, especially with a medication I know that can really in like almost overnight, completely change you. That yes. That, that experience is closer to reality. I know, but I wanted to address right off the bat, like the, both of those misconceptions about medication because Yeah, like what happens immediately after that imagine spot is that Hannah then imagines all the color leaching out of her and being turned into a conformist robot who has to walk in lockstep with all the others and, you know, having all the joy sucked out of her.
And like those are, yeah, those are the two. Polar opposite imagination, perceptions of, of what medication is gonna do to you. And neither one is, is terribly realistic. .
Anthony: Yeah. But like I said, I did appreciate the, I’m cured. Hey everyone. Now I’m, I’m a fully functioning member of society.
Hey, look at me. I’ve got all my stuff together and I’m good to go and yada yada. Hey, yes, I’m right. I’m proud of the line. Now
Ted Anderson: I got the column, an equa plaza of a bomb disposal technician. I was proud of that. Mine . Yes, yes.
Anthony: That was, I was like, okay. I, I appreciate that. I feel seeing someone, someone else gets this.
So let’s pivot then from, from Hannah A. Little bit. Let’s talk about Dr. Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs is such a, a put upon professional and full credit to, to Taryn, Dave, the artist here for just the depiction of, of her and her facial expressions and just the world weary. Okay, it’s time for another semester.
All right. What are you dealing with? And again, not in a, a derogatory or a dismissive sense, like you can tell she’s, she’s absolutely written as this compassionate character. But at the same time, there is a level of experience there. And just a, a sense of, okay, I’ve seen this.
Now how are we gonna deal with it? And it’s just the, the lack of feasibility mm-hmm. On, on her face and in her entire demeanor, I think was refreshing and funny not like a overly haha sense, but just that how what I guess kind of research or investigation did you do to, to create that kind of a character?
You know, did you talk to other mental health professionals? Was this drawn from your own experiences with, with therapy or other professionals?
Ted Anderson: A lot of it was drawn from my own therapy and my own, much as my own experiences talking with my therapist. I’m not currently in therapy, partly due to covid, probably to a, due to just other time issues.
But I, I was, and have been in therapy for many years and a lot of it is just based off of, I, I don’t wanna say common sense, but like, I’m not using a terribly specific approach for a lot of what she does. Some of it’s based on like C B T and some of it is just talk therapy and, and there’s other elements.
I just wanted to make her the, you know, always a very sensible person, a very realistic person who, yeah, it is. I mean, this is extremely common. Seeing your first year come in for anxiety and depression when they’ve left their support system and come to college for the first time.
Yeah, that’s gonna happen a million times every semester. But you know, she does still give the best. The best treatment she can give, which is to talk about, okay, what are you feeling? How do you deal with it? What do we do? You know, let’s try some medication in addition to therapy. And as noted in the back matter, I did have a family therapist come in and help, you know double check my dialogue.
And Calvin Howard came in and looked over, maybe she wouldn’t say it like this, maybe she’d phrase it like that. And a lot of it was minor tweaks, but a lot of it was just, what, what do you say? And a lot of it is like my own internal monologue at this point, because I’ve been in therapy for so long and I’ve also just developed my own strategies enough, and it’s like, okay, how do I talk myself down from whatever it is I’m experiencing?
And, put that into Dr. Jacobs’s mouth and like Yeah, doc is nodding too, . Like this is no question. Yeah, no question.
Doc Issues: It’s something that when I see a patient, cuz when I’m showing my natural biases here, but what, when I see a patient, I can usually tell within the first two or three minutes if they’ve seen another therapist before.
And it’s not an insult, it’s just simply, all right, I see the path that this person has taken. I have no problem with that. I’m accepting of that. And I, I try to acknowledge when I talk to them, I may have a different style, but I want to accomplish similar goals. And as long as we can understand that, then yeah.
The words may be a little different or the way I paraphrase things may be a little different, but, I’d like to think that most therapists aren’t saying anything that any person within the past five centuries hasn’t said about the human condition. I’m not trying to create something brand
Ted Anderson: new
Yeah. I mean, I remember reading years ago a study where it was some, some relatively basic study on the value of therapy, and it was just something along the lines of they had two groups one group going to professional therapist one group going to people with absolutely no therapy credentials or background, but just a willingness to talk to this person and listen to their problems.
And they basically, both groups experience similar outcomes and like, yeah, that’s the whole basis of talk therapy is, that’s why venting feels good, , that’s why, this level of just talking about your feelings can be helpful. And yeah, sometimes there are conditions that require different approaches and there are people with different backgrounds that have different, there’s, there’s a lot of possibilities.
Absolutely. But like in this sense, like, yeah, I just wanted to. I just wanna make her sort of the most reasonable person in there and, and always kind of have a calm demeanor. You mentioned Tara and I do absolutely wanna give a massive shout out to Tara. I was so happy when they, when they told me that she was coming on the book because I didn’t pitch this with an artist and when they told me they were approaching Tara, I was like, oh my God, I love her because I, I’d seen her stuff before.
She’s done a lot of really great books. She did a book called Roots About Her, that was a memoir about going to find her family history in Ireland. She did a book just recently called Fly by Night that came out, I wanna say a few months ago. I’m not totally sure about that. But like, her stuff I’d seen before and I knew that she would do a really great job at depicting college students in distress.
No, that’s, well, , she, I love her style. I love the fluidity of it. I love how she can draw people at various levels of distress and show their emotional. Balance in different stages and, and get it so clearly across. And so, yeah, her design for Dr. Jacobs, I think like her first design she showed me, I’m like, yeah, that’s perfect.
Straight off. Let’s go with that. And I think, I’m trying to remember. I’m pretty sure like halfway through, there’s a reference to the fact that like Dr. Jacobs has been moved into a smaller office. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And part of that is just because I wanted us to change up the layout of the office, and I, I realized I’d been describing it wrongly, the ha like the whole way through.
Like, I wanted her to be off literally on a couch and not have a desk between her and Dr. Jacobs because, I mean, furniture is just one part of how you arrange the therapeutic experience, but like, I wanted that to be a contrast with when she goes to meet the dean, there is this gigantic desk as he’s got this mahogany monstrosity between the two of them.
And so I wanted that to be changed up and, and it was kind of too late to redraw the earlier pages, so we just put in another panel or two, like, oh yeah, you changed offices now. And it’s like, yeah. Yeah. But it, it does speak to, again, the fact that mental health isn’t always well treated by universities, which.
God. That was another issue I was gonna put in earlier on when I was researching topics was like, there have been a lot of major universities that have not treated me students who require mental health services with the greatest of respect. There’s a lawsuit going right on right now with Yale where like, yeah, that’s, I probably shouldn’t comment on it too much, but everything I read about it seems pretty not good.
But like, not every, not every university has the same kind of resources and the same kind of treatment. And I, this is, this is again, side effects as a book is a little more lighthearted than it would need to be to actually go into those questions. But in the real world, it’s not always as easy as Dr.
Jacobs. Yeah, I wanted her to be just sort of my ideal therapist if I ever went back to therapy was, and, and this is the result. So yeah. And the cat eye glasses were essential. No, I dunno. , I like the cat eye glasses there. Any little detail.
Anthony: Yeah, she’s a fantastic member of the supporting cast.
Another solid supportive character is her is Hannah’s roommate. I, and I have Marcy. Is that the name or, or I,
Ted Anderson: Marcy is the, is the other student? Ella is her. Is her, Ella is the roommate. Okay. Ella, I was realizing she had a different name at the start of the book, and then I realized, wait, shoot, that was the name of this other character in a different thing.
I wrote and I’m like, ah, crap. I came, come up with a different name and Ella was kinda the first thing I settled on. And then I realized eventually like, oh wait, that’s really kind of phonetically similar to Hannah. I’m gonna mix those up at some point. But by then it was too late. It’s whatever. So it’s Ella.
It probably could be something else, but yeah, Ella is, another character that I, I would’ve loved to have given so much more paid space to because she, she’s an important factor in this cuz I mean, obviously she’s, she’s the person who first finds Hannah in distress and knows enough to kind of get her the help she needs.
But also she’s, I mean, this is, it’s not seen as, as explicitly in the Texas I’d like it to be. She’s transgender. She’s got a little trans flagged pin and it’s sort of, it’s obliquely referenced in some of her dialogue. I had a scene where it was explicitly confirmed, but I had to cut that for pacing reasons.
But that’s somebody who has gone through clearly mental health issues of her own mental health and other issues and has come out on the other side with a better sense of self and self-worth and. Self, self-help. And I wanted her perspective to be in there as much as I could. Again, like 120 pages, there’s a, there’s a lot I would’ve loved to cover as well, but Ella at least gets to show off some of that in the early part of the book, being this, this helpful voice, the person who just make, who gives her the first step, who, who pushes her towards the office and offers to, you know, carry her in fireman style if she needs to.
But that can be the most important part of it sometimes. I mean, in my case, the thing that inspired me to finally go into therapy was talking to my mother when I was in my third year of college. And there was, I don’t even remember if it was a specific thing or if there was a, I don’t know, I was just feeling down or whatever it was.
But I remember talking to my mother and. She sort of offhandedly mentioned having gone to therapy or taking meds and that was something I didn’t know about her, despite being a college student at that point. I didn’t know this, and I’m like, oh. And you know, I’m very similar to my mother in a lot of ways in like temperament and me just sort of our, how our brains work.
So I wonder if I should be doing this too. And so then it turns out, hey, yeah, I probably should . But yeah, like having that person, that one person there to come in and say, Hey, you should maybe think about this and push you as much as you are able to handle is an important part of any mental health journey.
So yeah, Ella deserves more space than I was able to give her, but that’s a different conversation.
Anthony: . Yeah, definitely. Friendlier than. Pretty much any roommate I had in college.
Ted Anderson: My roommate, my, my roommate, by the way. I just wanna say perfectly lovely guy. I’m still Facebook friends with him.
We’d never talked in the room. we were fine. We never had any issues, like, never had any problems of like, oh, cry, you know, your stuff’s taking up the room. We just kind of never had a reason to like talk at all. . So,
Doc Issues: so as someone who, who has lived his life, and I say this actually with a wife and kid, but has lived much of his life almost as a lone wolf.
It was amazing how close I ended up with my college roommate to the point that he is also a psychiatrist. That was not the original plan. We did not go to med school at the exact same time, even though we originally were on the same track. He actually went a different way and then ultimately came to it.
And I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll just call him out. Thanks for the paid share subscription. You know, we, we’ve, no, we’ve, we’ve shouted him out before. It’s not new, but no, I have to say that that. Relationship, and he knows this, this isn’t secret. I give a lot of credit to him for be helping me become the person that I’ve become in a very positive way.
And just recognizing that the world could be so much more than what I thought it was. And obviously my co-host here is, is like another one of the huge factors in that. My wife’s a huge factor in that and my family in general, and your book does a great job of this. I don’t think people.
If they haven’t really given the time to think about it. I don’t think people realize how college age, even if you don’t go to college, how that period of time is just so influential in your overall mental makeup, your mental wellbeing. And if you can really take that time, if it’s, if it’s a time that you’re struggling through, if you have those, as you said, those initial connections if you need them, those, those can be so powerful.
Ted Anderson: Yeah, I talked about like losing the support network of like home and friends and family from your, wherever you’re from and then going to college if you then can find a support network there if you find the people around you. Cuz again, it’s not just Ella, it’s also her boss and then also other people she meets obviously then the girlfriend that she meets along the way.
But like Hannah being able to develop a support network of her own is another significant milestone and another really important step on that mental health journey in the book, because. Humans don’t live alone. You gotta have somebody around . You gotta live with somebody that you didn’t choose for a while in order to really get the full human experience.
Anthony: Amen to that. You know, and like I said, I say, I say almost any roommate cuz my one roommate Nick, awesome dude you know, still, still good friends with him still I still play hockey with him, so I didn’t want to just say all my roommates. One of them over the course of four years was, was solid.
Ted Anderson: Rest me, give some qualifications. Now I understand . Yeah.
Anthony: So let’s talk about is then because I just, I really appreciated, you know, that she was very clearly. Depicted with, with her own baggage.
Ted Anderson: Spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the book by the way, for maybe the next five or so minutes, if we talk about is cuz is’ Own.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to step on you there. I just wanted to throw that out. Oh, no, no,
Anthony: no. Is kind of, is, is is kind of like a walking spoiler in a sense. And that’s why, I’m trying not to give too many spoilers. I’m just saying she has her own baggage. Yeah. But I, I do appreciate how she was kind of fleshed out as, very much this her own character.
And it wasn’t just, oh, she’s the, the love interest or, the romantic target, so to speak, that she’s very much written as, as a full character with her own stuff. And so, so you know, I definitely appreciated that. What were some of the, the things that you had, when you were writing is
Ted Anderson: so.
I wanted is, I mean, it is had to be there from the beginning cuz I knew that I wanted a lot of sort of the, the slice of life complications. You have your professors, you have your classes, you have your friendships, you have your relationships, you have your developing relationship. That’s obviously gonna be a situation that is ripe for characters with mental health issues.
To, to have complications along the way is like, oh my God, I’m starting to get a girlfriend for the first time or a, a partner of any sort. And it took me a embarrassingly long time to give is enough of a role in that because I realized that. If I give her her own elements that shows Hannah’s development in another light, is the idea that Hannah now has to be the supportive friend for somebody else, and she has to be able to accommodate and deal with somebody else who has mental health issues.
And in Izzy’s case, has been dealing with them already for several years, but clearly is still, you know, she’s dealing with them. And it’s a lot to, to manage. Is being bipolar was a, that wasn’t that late. In addition, I forget when I came up with it in, in terms of the writing process, but it was something that I, I realized was like, that puts a different spin on everything that gives her a different role in the narrative.
It also makes her. It makes her, I, I am a little bit embarrassed at how much she reads, like, kind of a manic, pixie dream girl for an early part of the book, and that she’s kind of the outgoing one who sucks Hannah into all these fun things, but if she’s bipolar, that actually gives a slightly different reading on her, on her actions and how she’s, how she’s perceived by all the other characters.
And so I wanted to give her as deep a reading as I could. The focus is still obviously on Hannah, but I wanted to make sure that Izzy’s struggles and issues got their own time in the spotlight and that. It wasn’t just a one-off thing that can be over dealt with and over and done like.
Yeah. I mean, and this is also where I started getting into territory that I didn’t have personal experience of, because like I said, so much of this was based on my own experience of working with a therapist and, my own anxiety and depression issues, bipolar disorder is not something I have any personal knowledge of.
I don’t have any family members or relatives. So I did as much as possible the research, I had sensitivity readers I had a a very extensive read through by a bipolar reader and they, gave me some very helpful feedback on that. And it was something where I realized, by stepping outta my comfort zone and encoding a character like this, it, it broadens the view of, yeah, mental health really does come in a lot of different flavors.
Mental illness comes in a lot of different flavors and how we deal with it is it, everybody’s experience with it is different. So yeah. Is. Is ended up being a really good challenge to the narrative in a, in a positive way, in a, that’s a weird way to put it. But like she, she ended up making the narrative branch off in ways that I didn’t expect from the, from the beginning.
And also giving Hannah some depth and showing that Hannah really is growing as a person and able to find solutions to problems she never imagined facing. Yeah. Spoiler over, by the way, for coming back from the No. .
Anthony: Well, it’s funny because, you know, while we’re, we’re still, I suppose, talking about the spoiler alert that the manic episode that she has, towards the, climax of the story did kind of remind me to go back.
We were talking about Jeremy Whitley earlier. It did remind me of Nadias in the unstoppable wasp. This, you know, oh, I can do this. And then I started with this. I can fix everything. And, you know, definitely needs to be like, kind of reigned in and saying, Hey, whoa, let’s just dial it back. I’m glad you’re feeling, fantastic, but let’s try and limit the scope of where it is that you want to go.
So I just, I thought that was, kind of interesting. Artistic parallel between those two characters. And like I said, given that, you know, we’ve previously spoken to Jeremy and then obviously the fact that the two of you are, you know, friendly with each other, you both worked on My Little Pony I was just like, oh, okay, that’s, cool that at least, you know, whether it was intentional or not.
I saw those, those kind of parallels. Between, you know, is and, and Nadia,
Ted Anderson: that’s, yes. And I, this is where I embarrass myself because I have not yet read that arc of Unstoppable Wasp and I know about it and like this at the same time, this makes it so I can, you know, very definitely state that I wasn’t caught ripping off Jeremy when I was writing this.
But no, I have not gotten to that arc yet and I know it’s coming and I’m really excited to see how he worked with it because we were talking earlier about graphic medicine and how, how mental health is depicted and I wanna see how it’s depicted by another writer and another artist’s team and see what.
What aspects of it are shown on the page and what aspects of it are given different, different weights and just Yeah. How do you depict something like that that is so individual and yet has relatability for so many people and, yeah. That’s one of the few I know that’s being, that’s that’s up there as listed as one of the few really good depictions of mental health and mental hi mental illness in superhero comics.
And I’m excited to finally
Anthony: get it Well, for kinda
Ted Anderson: spoiling it for No, no, no, no, no. I know that’s, that’s the thing of it. I knew it was already coming up and like when I was researching bipolar issues and bipolar comics, I even realized like, oh yeah, I should read that. And then I never did. But , Jeremy, Jeremy, if you’re listening, I’m so sorry about this, but it is now, I’m really excited about being able to read it with a clear conscience as it were.
Yeah. I am so happy that it’s becoming more visible in so many ways that. It’s the kind of thing that you can write a middle grade ya superhero comic, especially aimed at girls and he gets such traction and is so widely respected and available and like, yeah man, I think it’s great.
I think it’s great that with it can be talked about in such a
Anthony: forum. Definitely. Definitely. So some of the situations in school that Hannah decides to utilize her powers for what were some of the, I guess, the inspirations for some of the obstacles? I’m, I’m, again trying not to spoil too much, but what were, was it a situation where you thought of the, the scenario and then what would be a good power to use that for?
Or did you come up with the power first and then say, how can I express. The power in a particular scenario. I’m just trying to figure, you know, chicken or egg kind of deal.
Ted Anderson: No, I get you. I definitely came up with a list of powers and side effects first, and I came up with more than were used in the book.
I literally just made up a list of like what are common side effects that people experience on psychotropic medications? Looking at both my own experiences and just like lists that people have said and like them thinking, oh yeah, so what is something that might be paired with, for example, weight gain.
And it’s like, well then there’s a superpower of invulnerability or near it vulnerability or whatever. And just sort of picking a power that seemed to work up aside from the one that I started with, which was of course the, the headaches and the brain zaps. And from there, I mean, knowing that I wanted to start with the brain zaps is the first one because that seemed like a, a pretty obvious way to start with.
And then once I had the plot nailed down, It, it kind of just came together relatively naturally in realizing this, it’s gonna be advantageous to show Hannah having a power in this scene that leads her to this particular realization or epiphany of like, This is what this person is experiencing.
This is what I’m experiencing at this moment, and this is how the power helps or doesn’t or whatever. I’m being very vague about this. It kind of fell into, because there were really, I mean, there’s only four powers shown in the comic, and again, I have so many more, and knowing already that the, the beginning in the end kind of anchored what I was doing with those two.
The middle two got to be a little bit more fluid of like, oh, I’ve got a scene where I want to have this happening. It’s like, oh yeah, if, if Hannah goes on a date with is, then it would be kind of funny if we had this power being used here, the telepathy power, because then we could show her reading is’ mind and get into that element of it.
So yeah, it kind of fell into place a little bit ease pretty easily. I think knowing the powers going in and then being like, well, what, what works best?
Doc Issues: All right. Yeah. I give a lot of credit to the creativity in, in all of it. But also the agency that it allows for a character like that to have, because the massive transitions that happen throughout this book for Hannah, it’s, it’s not just the powers themselves, it’s that it goes from the idea of being helpless to literally being helpful.
Just the idea that, as you said, it all starts with, are you okay? And. The idea that when, when I first saw like the, the cover of it, and I’m looking at the bag, it says, Hannah doesn’t want to be a hero. She just wants to be, well, and I, I’ll say this in, in, in a very positive light.
When I first heard the premise of this book, as Anthony introduced it to me, what I was kind of fearful of was it really would go literally, like she get, she takes medication, she becomes this superhero, and now she’s out on all these superhero adventures doing these things. I’m like, I’m not sure I wanna read that.
And the fact that it doesn’t go that way and it’s much more slice of life just. , you know, yes, she makes a difference, but she makes a difference the same way that we all can make a difference. That is what makes this book even more powerful. So I I really
Ted Anderson: do appreciate that. That’s, yeah. I’m, thank you very much for saying that.
That was always my intention was I wanted to make sure it, is it, I mean, the slice of white stuff was just, I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to go too big. Trying to do full on superhero action would’ve made this a very different book. I just wanted it to be a story about, yeah, this is what it’s like to slowly get better with some fun superhero superpower, nonsense thrown in, in, in the bits of it.
The original finale did have more of a, or trying to be a sort of superhero ish. Not even conflict. It was trying to be an actual superhero as opposed to what happens, which is more in the line with just trying to be a person who helps another, which, well, that’s actually a pretty fine line there.
Anyway, my point is, what it could have been could have been more like being a superhero as opposed to what it is, which is more in line with just being a slice of life comic. And I’m so happy with how that turned out because it, it keeps the focus on the reality of, yeah, sometimes you deal with stuff and sometimes you get better at it, and sometimes you just kind of forget about it and it happens.
Things change. Life happens, and, and all you can do is adapt to it as best you can.
Anthony: Very well stated . So last you kind of mentioned that Tara was kind of, I guess, assigned to you, on the book. Was that the same situation for Dave as well?
Ted Anderson: Yes. Dave was another a, a well-known Letterer who was pulled in on, I, I think he was a, a guy who’s worked with Half Track before.
I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know what’s about his situation. This is the, power of the curse of a letterer is that if you do your job well as a letterer, nobody thinks about you because it just, it works perfectly, but it’s, I mean, he, he did an amazing job with it. There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of little minor effects and subtle effects of of just like shouts and speech balloons shaped oddly, or like weird alien writing in parts where Hannah is having difficulty concentrating and can’t understand people.
A final, a sequence where is, is having a manic episode and her words sort of burst out of the balloon in specific ways. Those are all elements that Dave brought to it that work really well. I wish I had more to say about him other than he’s a really good letter . I wish I knew more about it.
I gotta talk with Dave. Dave, if you’re listening to this, let’s, we’ll take it on some time. But it is one of those things where he was, I mean, as far as I know, he’s just been working with After Shark for a while as a, or as a freelancer for a while, and is clearly a very talented dude, man. I believe the logo was done by somebody else, the front cover logo, which is meant to look like a pill container that was done by, I’m completely planking on his name.
I do not remember who it was, but that was something where I always knew I wanted it to do something that had a, a relation to medication. And so that’s what we came up with was The, the pill container with the different letters on each one. So
Anthony: yeah, it’ll definitely, you know, fits thematically. Oh wow.
And I’m glad you appreciate Dave, because I always say lettering is kind of you. I understand your, your point that yes, if you do it right, it’s kind of forgotten, but bad lettering, I always notice if it’s, if it’s done poorly, yes, it definitely does jump out at me. And if it’s done right, it really it adds a great deal to the story that it just especially non, I’ll say like, like non-standard speech bubbles yeah, that can do a lot.
Things of that nature. Where it’s a character that has a particular speech style or, through the lettering, you get a, a feel for their voice, their actual voice, and if it’s done right through the lettering , it, it really tells a, a powerful story. I was just telling Doc the other day, we were talking about atrocities, you know, we’re talking about LAN and stuff and how there’s a particular moment there where the lettering shifts.
It’s a slight thing, but it shifts and it says so much about the character, and I was just like, that it, it’s, you know, credit to Jeff Johnson who wrote it, obviously, but as, but the, the lettering as well. So yeah, lettering is underrated, I would say as yes, as far as its contribution to the page.
If it’s done really great , it kind of just, it fits in with the art, especially when the artist and the letter are, are working in sync like that. Yeah. So, so full credit to, to Tara and Dave collectively for, for their work. On, really fleshing out the story.
Cause otherwise you could have just, you know, written a prose novel and that would’ve been it. Yeah,
Ted Anderson: that, I mean, that is, that is one of the things a couple of people have asked. I, so I was able to, after Stark flew me out to the American Library Association conference in the summer of 2022 with advanced reader copies of this book, which was fantastic.
Again, as a librarian, I got to meet all these other librarian around the country and show off this book, and everyone was like, oh my God, I love mental health stuff. It’s, it’s what we need right now. And a couple people asked me sort of about like, why a graphic novel as opposed to anything else. And I mean, probably it’s just because at this point I’m so used to working in comics, I have trouble thinking in anything else.
But it’s also like, it is, it is having those, the visual elements of it makes it so. So possible to do really
deeply, deeply genre and yet relatable stuff. I’m trying to think of the best way to phrase this. Like, it’s in, in the way that you heighten the emotional tension of the scene, you get across very quickly exactly what a character’s feeling, or exactly how they’re, they’re experiencing it. I mean, again, look, we were talking about earlier with graphic medicine you’re never able to forget that you’re seeing a situation through somebody’s eyes, through their perspective.
Not literally, but in the sense that like everything is being colored by their drawing pen or pencil or whatever they’re using. You know what I mean? . And so everything is being shaped by the perceptions of this character, which means that it has to be shaped by the artist. And those visual elements can help reinforce those, those ideas all the way through.
And I just like having people shooting, whitening up their fingers. Like that’s what comics are for, man, .
Anthony: Hell yeah. That’s, the fun and joy of, reading them. . So we’re gonna start wrapping things up. What are you working on next?
Ted Anderson: So, it was just recently announced.
My next book is with first, second currently called The Masked Princess. We’ve already had to go through one name change. We might do another, but it’s not entirely Sure. That’s scheduled to come out in 2025. The artist is Ali Roswell, who has done some amazing work on the fifth name of Goldie Vance, and a series called Welcome to Wonderlands.
I’m really excited about that. That’s a book about gender identity and fandom and viral fame. I am literally just writing, like wrapping up the script, the second draft of the script, like this weekend before school starts again, because oof, boy, that’s gonna really eat at my time.
And it’s, I am so excited for that one. When did you get to see it In like, two years. You don’t know what I’m talking about. Apart from that, I have a whole lot of things in the works. None of them I can talk about yet, but I am really hopeful about all of them being able to pop up soon. But yeah, in a couple years, look for the Mass Princess , otherwise side effects in stores now.
And of course all the, my, the pony books available,
Anthony: back issue for.
Ted Anderson: I do like leading with that because it’s, it’s such a ridiculous way to talk about my career and just like where I come from and where I’m going. And the fact that I started my comics career working on one of the highest profile books at the time was such a weird man.
It, it was a weird situation. 20 11 was a, or 2012 was a weird time for all of us. . It was 20 12, 20 13. Oh boy. I can’t even remember. Anyway,
Anthony: well looking forward to that then. And we’ll bring you back on the show then in 2025. I didn’t even know that they were planning books out comic books out that far in advance.
Ted Anderson: was gonna be 2024, but I got a little bit behind on the script . It really was due to me not quite having things ready in time to start up this drawing before this other thing. 20, 25, say
Anthony: early on, like, we literally just started January, 2023, and you’re saying, oh, this is not gonna come out for two years.
I’m like, how long does it take
Ted Anderson: to ? Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s 200 at current writing. It’s like 250 something pages, 240 something pages. Oh, okay. Yeah. This is what I really get to stretch my wings and go really long. Okay.
Anthony: Yeah, exactly. Is this Ogn or is this a mini or limited or
Ted Anderson: this is gonna be a YA graphic novel?
Yeah, two, like 240 ish pages at most recent thing. Like I said, it’s about fandom. It’s about a kid in high school who discovers that they’re gonna be making an animated series out of a comic book series that he loved as a kid.
And it’s sort of an homage to things like Sheira or especially comic series like Amph Princess of Gem World, or like a Distant Soil, which is one of my great favorites. But it’s also about gender identity and going virally famous and just fandom in general and identity and issues, and thinking you’re the main character when you’re clearly not.
And yeah, I’m, I’m really looking forward to getting it on shelves.
Anthony: Nice. All right. Well we will definitely you know, bring you back on in two years if we’re still doing the show. Oh, fingers crossed. We will be. But so Ted, where can folks find you online, social media websites, whatever that the case may.
Ted Anderson: Thank you for, for reminding me. For the moment, I’m, I’m on Twitter as everyone is currently bouncing the knife’s edge at Ted Lee Anderson, t e d l y a n d e r s o n. I also, I’m more active on Tumblr at the same username, Ted Lee Anderson. I should have a website up.
. I’m in the final stages of finally getting all that nonsense together. Hopefully if I’ve got everything registered properly, that should also be ted lee anderson.com. Don’t go there just yet. It might not work, but hopefully in the next few weeks, , that will be properly set up and I’ll have a nice little website with all my, all my material everywhere.
Yeah, at the moment, that’s where I am on, on most of our social internet media websites. That’s getting late. I’m a little bit loopy at this point, but yeah, that’s where I am at the moment.
Anthony: Excellent. All right. Well be sure to go ahead and , if you’re not already following on whatever’s left of Twitter you know, it’s, it’s early January at this point.
This episode isn’t gonna come out until February. And who knows if there’ll still be a Twitter? I mean, we were talking about, we were talking with Erica Schultz about that, like literally, like right after Elon started buying it and things just went completely haywire. And I was like, I don’t know if there’s gonna be a site by the time this episode drops and it’s coming out in like four
Ted Anderson: days.
Who knows? Yeah. People are gonna be laughing when they hear this, and by this point, Twitter has become a complete trash fire and it’s oof. No, it’s so than it already is. Well, yeah, like an actual Yeah. , they’re already sued. They’re, they’re getting sued at, as we’re talking about, they’re getting sued for not paying rent on time.
So like, yeah, things aren’t looking good. They don’t have functioning janitors. It’s. Ooh. Yeah. Anyway, that’s, I still hold, I still hold on hope. My hope is that Mackenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife, buys the whole thing and turns it into a nonprofit because we need a site like Twitter. It just needs to not be run as a for-profit enterprise.
Mm. And like, it needs to not be in the hands of like the world’s richest man and Yeah. Or anyone similar. So anyway, he’s not
Anthony: the world’s richest man anymore. That’s
Ted Anderson: right. Yes. Hey, what do you know? Anyway, but yes, that’s my hope. But that’s a whole other conversation.
Anthony: Indeed. It is. So Ted, thank you very much for coming. We, we absolutely appreciate you taking the time to speak of this. You can find us, speaking of social medias on Facebook, internet Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at capes on the couch. We are we also have all of our episodes available on our website, capes and the couch.com.
We’ve got some interesting episodes coming up in the next couple weeks. We’re covering animal sidekicks as requested by our president level patron, Janine. And then to tie in with the Quantum Mania release, we will be covering Kang the Conqueror, and then we will be getting into another Patreon selection.
Claire Voyant who is a character I had frankly never heard of before. Ruby said hey, this is who I want to cover. So we’re gonna be doing some research and we will be learning about the character, frankly probably just as much as you are when, when that episode drops. So as always, if you like what you hear, please like, rate and subscribe.
If you listen to us on a platform that allows you to do so share with your friends. Check out our discord. We’ve got all the links to everything in the show notes links, all the stuff that Ted and, and we were talking about. And that’s it. So, so again Ted, thank you very much. And like I said, we’ll, we’ll have you back on the show in two years for that book.
And then , if there’s anything else you’ve got working out that maybe comes a little sooner than that, we’ll we’ll get you back on fingers crossed. Before then. Doc, you got anything you touch on before we, we head out?
Doc Issues: I just wanted to say thank you because this is the type of book that I, I hope that especially people in that college age, if they get their hands on this, I, I think they’ll have a much better experience in life.
Ted Anderson: I, you know, that’s, that’s all I can hope for too. I did actually have at least one person on Twitter write me and say that their son had really connected with this book, and I, it was really meaningful to hear about that. So, no, thank you so much. I appreciate you guys having me on.
Thank you, Anthony. Thank you, doc. And yeah, back Any, anytime. Thanks so much.
Anthony: So for, for Ted Anderson and Doc issues, I’m Anthony Sytko. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week.