As someone who’s dealt with various eating disorders throughout her life, Tyranny grabbed my attention right away. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t many (if any) graphic novels out there about eating disorders and this one brings the disorder itself to “life” in the form of a manic doodle being named, appropriately, Tyranny.
While I’ve never had the body dismorphia, anorexia, bulimia, and tremendous pull to be thin that the author battled, she shows us how pervasive messages about being thing are in our culture, in our families, in our workplace, in our friendships. It’s a slim, quick read, but it packs a punch through a hip, engaging drawing style (and garishly frightening style when it comes to the Tyranny illustrations) and a stark, brave depiction of the author’s battle under the anorexic and bulimic regime of Tyranny.
One part that hit me harder than I expected was when the author makes friends with a model named Cynthia, who is so pressured to be thinner that she winds up dying from complications of bulimia. In a particularly heart-wrenching set of panels, Cynthia tells Fairfield how her hair is falling out, her teeth are eroding, and she can’t stop throwing up even when she doesn’t want to. This was roughly a week or so before Cynthia wound up going into the hospital and then dying.
Throughout the book, Tyranny, a squiggle-drawn, demeaning creature keeps telling Lesley that she’s no good, she’s too fat, she shouldn’t eat, and other dangerous thoughts. It’s fascinating to see one person’s embodiment of that negative voice in their head and I’d have to say that Tyranny sure lives up to his/her name. The best part of the book, though, was when the author sought treatment for her disorders in an attempt to reclaim her life. The last three pages, when Tyranny is told that their reign is over and they need to go away, is fantastic. Watching Tyranny unravel is a beautiful thing.