Illustrator’s Family Finish Graphic Novel about Mental Illness After Her Suicide

By Lucy Sweeney

Original Article Published on

Nine years ago Mel Tregonning started working on a comic strip about a little boy overwhelmed by his worry monsters. But before she could finish it, she took her own life.

It wasn’t until after Mel’s death, in 2014, that her family discovered the story reflected her own personal struggle with anxiety and depression.

Today, they can finally hold Mel’s work in their hands.

Mel’s passion for cartoons and drawing began at a desk in the bedroom she shared with her sister, Violet.

“Me and Mel shared a room my whole childhood and we only parted when she was 17. And that whole time, she had a desk set up in our room and she would just cartoon and draw,” Violet told Hack.

“She was a big fan of Garfield and Footrot Flats and Calvin and Hobbes and she had her own little comic strip that she drew called Licorice the Cat which was featured in a magazine from the age of 16, so she was already well ahead of everyone from a young age.”

At age 16 Mel began a comic strip called ‘Night’ that featured in a national magazine, and she kept building on her work until she got a big break in 2007 — a publishing deal for a graphic novel based on the same comic.

“She could see the impact these images were having on people,” Violet said.

“In ‘Night’, it was actually a little girl with these monsters in her shadows and people just really related to that feeling of the darkness and the hopelessness they felt and so that’s what grew into Small Things.”

The black and white illustrations tell the story of a little boy who struggles with feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

They take she shape of strange monsters that follow him around all day and haunt his dreams all night.

(To view illustrations, click the ”Continue Reading’ button below.)


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