From the Other One
Comic zine, Alison Uhma, 24 pgs, On Paper Comics, @alisonuhma/@auh_ma
This heartbreaking story of early-onset Alzheimer’s will tug at your heartstrings within the first page. From the Other One is a poignant and personal autobio comic chronicling the real-life story of Cape Breton-based cartoonist Alison Uhma and her 52-year-old mother, whose Alzheimer’s eventually leads her to live permanently in the mental health unit of a hospital. The author, living many thousands of miles away from her parents, painfully reflects on this distance, frustrated that she can’t be by her mother’s side. Regret and shame take over Uhma’s life as she feels helpless, and worse, like a shitty daughter, lost in her own grieving.
“I am vulnerable; filled with uncertainty. It is a nostalgic sense — I feel like a child. I want my mom like a child after a bad dream,” Uhma writes.
The compositions seem to follow Uhma’s intuition and affect, with handwritten text spilling over illustrations coloured with dense, sometimes contrast- ing washes of colour. Each spread transports you into the mind of the writer not only reliving memories and thoughts, but reflecting on the act of creating the zine itself, too. Uhma’s honesty resounds throughout, such that you too may be pushed to step back and confront your own experience of absence or distance.
I enjoyed every page and found myself eager to turn to the next, with hopes that Uhma would tell me some good news about her mother. But unlike many page-turners, things in this case do not get better with time.