When Life Hands You Lemons, Check For Lymes
When Life Hands You Lemons, Check For Lymes is a roughly drawn, self-published medical memoir by Phil Gerigscott.
He was bitten by a tick in 2012, during a camping trip, and he began suffering swollen and painful joints, particularly his knees, when he returned to college. A couple of years later, he began taking his condition seriously — previously, he thought it was due to over-exercising, and he treated it with a variety of homeopathic remedies. Here’s an early page that shows his style.
As you can see, he aims for each single page to have something of a punchline, but when you’re telling a real-life story, it can be difficult to come up with one.
I found the story frustrating, because there’s no certainty to it. Phil didn’t receive a clear diagnosis, and the comic ends before his condition does, a problem he struggles with in the last few pages. That may be realistic, but it makes for a meandering, ultimately unsatisfying comic. The storytelling here is sketchy; he’s not telling a fully detailed tale but collecting various moments. I want a clearer plotline, darn it, even if it is someone’s life!
I much preferred the interactions between Phil and his now-wife Emma, because I’m a sucker for relationship diary comics. During the time portrayed here, they spend four months in New Zealand volunteering on organic farms, and I’d like to have seen more of that.
Mostly, Phil draws characters talking to each other. This isn’t a wildly visually diverse comic. I did like the interwoven single-page images that show when they’ve moved to a new location or a new milestone is reached. And I’m always glad to see what people are doing in the growing field of graphic medical memoirs.
When Life Hands You Lemons, Check For Lymes can be preordered for release in early November. (The artist provided a digital review copy.)