Speechless Tells of Losing One’s Voice

Speechless cover

James Burns, whose earlier comic Detached was about eye problems, has another medical story available. Speechless is about him being investigated for thyroid cancer and the resulting loss of his voice after surgery. The 40-page book is available in print from IndyPlanet or digitally from comiXology.

Typical of a non-fiction comic, the art is straightforward and serviceable. The attraction isn’t exciting visuals but the creator’s autobiographical struggles and fears. Burns draws himself with stiffness, a little off, as though composed of assembled parts instead of one integrated being. That reminded me that this wasn’t a slickly professional story but an emotional and personal one. He does keep the various conversations and conveyances of information distinctive by considering the visual impact and selecting particular items and moments to highlight.

Burns’ experiences, from his dislike of medical procedures to his struggles to get attention from an overworked establishment with scheduling problems, are sympathetic and shared by many. At times, his flashbacks demonstrate a Kirby influence with their effects, adding a layer of exaggeration that demonstrates emotion.

Given the comic format, it’s interesting to see a sound-based story. Burns indicates the change in his voice by greying out his dialogue, an effective technique that visually reminds us of his changes.

I feel bad for James, since he keeps getting notice for making comics about scary medical situations that happen to him. On the other hand, I appreciate him sharing the experience, because it’s certainly not something I want to go through to know what it’s like. (The artist provided a digital review copy.)

One Response to “Speechless Tells of Losing One’s Voice”

  1. Grumbles Explores Modern Grouchiness Weekly » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Burns, who has previously cartooned about his medical conditions in comics with Speechless (voice loss after thyroid cancer surgery) and Detached (retina eye surgery), also has a weekly […]




Most Recent Posts: