There’s real resolve in Vivian Chong’s voice. Her story, deftly told in her new graphic memoir Dancing After TEN, explains her determination ... It’s a compelling, harrowing read ... The intensity, although not the method, of their [Chong and Georgia Webber's] collaboration will be familiar to comic book creators—it’s been key to the success of so many graphic novels. And their achievement underscores the message from advocates on behalf of those with disabilities—focus on what people can do, not what they can’t. This is an intensely personal book [.]
Chong's and Webber's individual art sometimes occupies separate pages, sometimes separate panels on the same pages, and sometimes separate elements within shared panels. The combination is an interwoven visual conversation ... one of the most fascinating collaborations in the comics form I've seen ... Where the sudden shifts in style (Webber's lines are thick, clean, and flowing—essentially the opposite of Chong's thin, choppy ones) might feel disruptive in another work, they always gesture to not only the creative process (Chong and Webber seated together working) but the parallel disruptions in Chong's actual experiences ... As much as I admire the combined artwork, I suspect most readers will be most engaged by Chong's story—not just the struggle and bravery of overcoming hardship, but her skill in shaping events and the extraordinary details of the plot ... Dancing After TEN documents both an extraordinary life story and an extraordinary creative process that crowns it.
Its unusual and fascinating process of collaboration distinguishes Dancing After TEN. Webber...worked with Chong to fill in drawings and narrative, creating pages and panels that integrate and develop the sketches into a story line. Together Chong and Webber create a comics language that paradoxically communicates sightlessness through drawing ... Dancing After TEN also, sadly, feels right for this moment, in its intense focus not only on Chong’s confusing medical condition but also on her loneliness. It can be a hard read.
Her story is so horrifying that it would be easy to gawk and move on quickly. Instead, in this memoir, Chong's confident voice draws out the complicated reality of a debilitating medical condition with precision and purpose ... Chong's narrative conviction and artistic direction blended with Webber's wiry illustrations are all-enveloping, communicating her huge challenge without pathos ... A prime example of the graphic medicine genre, which illustrates medical conditions, often through lived experience, this work is engaging and informative but never feels teachy or preachy.
Her delicate and expressive illustration of Chong’s story strikes precisely the right tone throughout, whether she’s delineating triumph, tragedy, or all those many points in between. Her challenges inform her artwork, absolutely, but she never allows them to leap to the forefront, opting instead to draw from them the perspective she needs to visually translate Chong’s words from a place of understanding rather than mere sympathy ... That being said, while she details the events of her life with remarkable clarity, her take on her own interpersonal relationships is a bit more distant and sometimes fails to strike a chord. In and of itself, this isn’t that huge a problem early on, but as she travels the road to emotional wellness and leans more heavily into her 'freedom in forgiveness' thesis, there’s less for the reader to really empathize with ... her commitment to creative exploration as a means toward the same end lands with much more impact and frankly seems to be where her passion lies ... my minor quibbles with it seem just that — minor. And I suppose they are, but given the sheer amount of heart and effort that went into Dancing After TEN, to give it anything less than a thorough-going analysis would be less than Chong and Webber deserve ... I have no qualms in prescribing this to anyone who’s either been through a traumatic and life-altering medical experience, or who simply wants to learn about what it takes not only to survive one, but to thrive afterward.
The work is intimate and unique, effectively conveying a broad range of emotions that follow the ups and downs associated with her starting a new way of life ... The expressive artwork, varying between loose, sketchy lines and clearer figures, makes a sharp distinction in time in this compelling, uncommon story. Readers interested in disability and/or graphic medicine will value this work.
The process behind this collaborative graphic memoir by Chong and Webber...is as noteworthy as its unusual illness narrative, even if the life lessons imparted by Chong don’t quite land ... While uneven in character development, the artistic collaboration is thoughtful—Chong’s shaky and unfinished sketches alternate with Webber’s more professional renditions in firmer lines with teal shading ... the dance between their styles illustrates how artists with differing experiences and abilities can partner to make art that’s elevated by the experiment. Chong’s conclusion that 'freedom is forgiveness' doesn’t resonate nearly as much as the work’s subtler implication, that freedom is resilience and teamwork.