Graphic Novel Review: Down To The Bone: A Leukemia Story by Catherine Pioli

Down To The Bone: A Leukemia Story by Catherine Pioli. Translated by J.T. Mahany. Graphic Mundi, 2022. 9781637790342.

While trying to get treatment for her sciatica, Pioli was diagnosed with leukemia. She spent more than a month in the hospital starting treatment, which was followed by chemotherapy after she was able to go home. This is her story, from pain to diagnosis to telling her family and then enduring treatment. Throughout it all, she maintains a sense of humor and produces some amazing comics despite how much her strength deteriorates. The narrative, the information about leukemia, and the details about her treatment that the book shares all have a sense of hope that made the graphic novel’s abrupt ending, with a short text note about Pioli’s death in 2017, all the more devastating.

I love how exact the illustrations feel, and in particular how she draws some people, objects, and backgrounds as colorless to emphasize other details and people. Plus I’m a fan of borderless panels which the book uses beautifully.

Worth noting: there’s a wonderful “afterward,” a 10-page section on bone marrow transplants which is informative and encourages donation.


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