With a true-to-life mixture of levity and seriousness, we witness (over a few too many episodes, perhaps) Clara’s dissatisfaction with— and ultimate withdrawal from—social life. Malle ingeniously presents digital screens as comics frames, and vice versa; she links how we access our digital lives with how we read comics, and makes this significant aspect of Clara’s world—something potentially dull to depict—dramatic.
Author Mirion Malle’s depiction of Clara’s all-consuming depression, both through her drawings and her writing, has the ring of authenticity only someone who has experienced it could create. Her minimalist black and white images compellingly portray the weight of her character’s agony and allows the reader to experience her pain. Through Clara, Malle creates a moving portrait of a young woman trying to heal from sexual trauma. Even in the depths of inner turmoil, Clara shows how there can be light in darkness through the love and support of her friends.
The portrayal of depression often focuses on an artistic and sensory depiction of the struggle, which This is How I Disappear does vividly, but it goes several steps further into showing not only the struggle but the breakthroughs ... Malle...presents a narrative that is as educational as it is dramatic. Her zine-style art presents the feelings well, giving ample space for pacing in the panels that are not cartoony but also not hyper-realistic as to weigh down the emotional appeal. Certain spots of heavy inking, such as the characters' heads and clothes and the cell phone serve as black holes that seem to slurp up the energy of the page ... Rather than wallowing in misery...This is How I Disappear shows that all is not dark.
In this story about one young woman’s struggle with depression, Malle represents an achingly relatable experience of loneliness and stagnation ... Malle draws powerful meaning out of even the smallest moments, such as when Clara is alone in bed, searching websites for advice about how to get through this difficult time. The black-and-white, hand-drawn style suits the story perfectly and quietly enhances Clara’s darker moments. It is a heartbreakingly familiar story that will resonate with readers of Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2002) and Julia Wertz’s Drinking at the Movies (2010).
... a keenly observed graphic novel portrait of depression, trauma, and healing ... Malle’s loose, sprightly black-and-white pen art shines at depicting the details of artsy 20-something society ... The leisurely paced story sometimes rambles in its search for a narrative thread, but eventually gets direction as Clara finds strength and support in her comrades. Reminiscent of the diary comics of Gabrielle Bell, this low-key look at life in recovery has a disarming simplicity and bracing sincerity.