Monster Mind: Dealing With Anxiety and Self-Doubt

Writer / Artist
Monster Mind: Dealing With Anxiety and Self-Doubt
Monster Mind rreview
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Ablaze - 978-1-950912-47-6
  • Release date: 2021
  • English language release date: 2022
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781950912476
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

As seen on the cover, Alfonso Casas has categorised and personified his anxieties, and you’ll come to know them all during the course of Monster Mind.

It’s difficult to know when he introduces himself if Casas just suffers from the occasional doubts we all have, or whether his condition is clinical. His first recollection of being affected is lying in bed just before sleep, a time when the day tends to be reflected upon, and that’s when little bulb like creatures appear, representing the frequent doubt about whether he really should have done something, but didn’t. He has pithy lines about observing his personalised demons such as “sometimes I manage to end up alone and in bad company” or “The important thing is to keep looking ahead, not to the side to see if you measure up”.

The separation and personification of worries transmits them more readily to readers who don’t live with constant anxiety, but Monster Mind is nevertheless self-indulgent as Casas examines his demons and their effect on him. The subtitle of Dealing With Anxiety and Self-Doubt promises more than the story delivers, as all the techniques for actually coping are supplied in the afterword after Casas has detailed his problems for 140 pages. That being the case, it’s the constantly delightful cartooning and imaginative presentation that becomes the draw. To anyone else the idea of his level of skill being among the worries he has will seem borderline insane when the appreciation it surely accumulates is undeniable.

Two-thirds of the way through Casas reaches the point where many who didn’t realise they had self-doubts suddenly received an unwelcome awakening. Like many other countries during the covid pandemic, Spanish citizens were subject to lockdown quarantine, and it’s when Casas, more used to producing the biographies of others, opened up to self-examination. As presented here, it leads to a cathartic moment, and the realisation that while Casas will always live with his monsters, there are means of restricting them. The ability to look beyond himself and realise many others may have similar demons is presented as quite the revelation.

At no point does Casas ever refer to his condition as depression, and it’s for a clinician not a reviewer to distil the difference, while it may be comforting for fellow sufferers to see their concerns so engagingly presented. For those who’ve not reached the same coping stage as Casas, the back of the book discussion notes from librarian Matthew Noe may be extremely useful. A shared experience is always valuable, and Casas is eloquent and concise.