Review by Frank Plowright
Whether they admit it or not, almost everyone involved in any creative endeavour has moments of self-doubt, where they question what they’re doing, whether it’s worth doing, or whether they’re good enough to do it. It says something about Lucy Bellwood that when she decided to participate in a project requiring people to produce something creative on a daily basis for a hundred days, what she settled on was the nagging inner voice.
The cover shows the appealingly adaptable imp supplied as a personification of doubt, and Bellwood’s innate cartooning talent in presenting it in a variety of smile-raising poses. The hundred pages of the creative project provide the bulk of the book, although there are almost half as many again of extra content. They form both an interesting narrative dynamic, with some panels connected, a far greater quantity individual, and an interesting personal dynamic as explained in Bellwood’s introduction. While she’s learned to listen to the inner demon, there are some days when she’s definitely in control and sure enough to flatten it, a combination provided as the sample art.
To begin with the presentations are not entirely obvious, as they’re all personal, but more inclined to be concerns experienced by others. Gradually, though, the pages become more confessional, and the moods swing from comedy to deep pains and personal guilt, yet most remain very relatable. At the same time, Bellwood takes the opportunity to experiment with the art, using different techniques and tools, while conceiving some smart metaphors to illustrate her feelings. A page titled ‘I Have Enough Time’ has Bellwood’s cartoon stand-in drawing while sitting on a giant horizontal candle being burned at both ends, that steadied by being impaled on the even larger demon’s pointed ears. The touching hundred pages end with the acknowledgement of everyone carrying their own demon.
Bellwood toyed with the idea of the inner demon before starting the hundred day project, and the back of the book contains the first incarnation, 31 cartoons produced on a daily basis during October 2015. These, not originally intended for publication, encompass an even greater variety of artistic approaches, variations of style, some in sketchy pencil, some tightly inked, and all of them as well considered as the material produced later.
While some comic creators regularly deal in self doubt – Chris Ware comes to mind – Bellwood’s pages are very approachable, and if one example gives a little more pause for thought than wanted, it won’t be long until there’s something to laugh off. Although a theme was in place from the start, Bellwood’s initial priority was the discipline of creating something on a daily basis, and it’s remarkable that the result is so personal, funny and engaging.