Comic books are serious business for author and illustrator Whit Taylor.
Taylor became a rising star in the comic world when she started drawing about five years ago. Even though Taylor never received an art degree or seriously considered art as a career, she now boasts multiple awards for her work. She's even been published on The Nib and Medium, among others.
So, what exactly makes Taylor's comics so appealing?
It may be the brutal honesty of her work. Taylor draws semi-autobiographical comics that address difficult topics, like cultural appropriation and natural Black hair, that resonate with her on a personal level. In fact, she penned "The Myth of the Strong Black Woman" — a powerful strip about Black women and mental health — while suffering from depression herself.
"The Nib had asked me to create a piece for International Women's Day and I decided to explore mental health disparities and cultural barriers to care for Black women," Taylor told Revelist. "My hope was that it could be of use to those struggling with mental health issues as well as help dismantle stereotypes about who mental illness affects."
The comic itself dives into some shocking statistics about these mental health disparities: As Taylor points out, women and African-Americans are more likely to suffer from depression than other groups — putting African-American women especially at risk. Yet when it comes to depression, African-Americans seek help at about half the rate of the general population.
Despite their reputation for being light-hearted and funny, Taylor thinks comics are the perfect medium for tackling this kind of serious, hard-hitting topic. She said the text and images help people digest all of this dense information more easily. Plus, creating them can be healing for the author as well.
"I've found the process of making comics to be therapeutic at times, so creating a piece about a serious topic, especially if it is based around my life experiences, helps me process things," she told Revelist.
But more than anything, she hopes her comics will make a positive impact on those who read them.
"Hearing from readers who have been positively affected by my work helps keep me motivated to make more comics," she said.
Check out Taylor's dive into Black women's relationship with their mental health in "The Myth of the Strong Black Woman," below.