A FRIEND GAVE ME A BOOK – A Non-Fiction Graphic Narrative

In 2004 I was in preparation for a performance that used trapeze as a dramatic effect for a climactic moment. In a training session I slipped and landed upside-down on the back of my neck, fracturing 2 vertebrae. I survived this catastrophe and wrote a short story about the experience.

In 2011 I created a solo performance work ‘The Escape Artist’ based on my unpublished story, which I reconfigured into a monologue. To this I added 6 original songs, an aria by Monteverdi, and the James Bond song ‘You Only Live Twice’. This work theatrically displayed the events leading up to the accident, the ordeal of an overnight stint in a hospital emergency ward, and the eventual discharge 15 hours later.

The staging required that I lay motionless on a table, speaking the monologue and singing the songs. Behind me were hung 3 large video screens, onto which was projected extensive video imagery that visually buttressed the story, including a fantasy world populated by re-enactments of the paintings of Caravaggio.

In 2015 I began work on this Graphic Narrative. I graphically rendered the texts and song lyrics from the performance work, as well as imagery from the video component. A Friend Gave Me A Book is an autobiographical graphic narrative that is based on a catastrophic trapeze accident and its aftermath, including a fantasy leitmotif that brings to life the paintings of Caravaggio. This body of work was created as both a book for publication (332 pages), and as an exhibition (164 10”x20’ diptychs and 2 10”x30” tryptics, completely hand-drawn, mixed media on paper, wood, linen and canvas).