Review: ‘Fishing Memories’ Delivers A Poignant Look At Alzheimer’s Disease
by James Ferguson
What is it like to lose all your memories and everything you recognize in the world? Lethe is literally pulling memories from the sea, trying to piece together his fractured mind as his family tries desperately to help him in this beautiful and powerful graphic novel.
Alzheimer’s Disease is debilitating not just for those experiencing it, but for those closest to them. There are few things in the world more heartbreaking than when a loved one doesn’t even recognize you. It’s hard to understand just what’s happening in the mind of someone going through this. Fishing Memories provides some interesting perspective as Lethe is shown in the real world with his concerned wife and daughter, as well as on a desert island, pulling drips and drabs of memories from the sea and trying to piece his life back together.
It takes a little while to make these connections between the two worlds, but once they’re made, you’ll want to go back and re-read Fishing Memories to see all the clues. For example, one of the early scenes has Lethe finding a bunch of pomegranates, a fruit that can improve memory, but he doesn’t eat them. Instead, he keeps searching for something else.
Lethe’s experience on the island can be overwhelming at times. Artist Majory Yokomizo shows how the memories can come flooding in all at once, like a massive wave that gobbles up this poor man. It’s so much that he can’t understand anything, even if the faces are some he’s seen thousands of times before.
When Lethe does get some fragments of memories, shown as pieces of broken glass, he holds onto them like his life depends on it. He tries desperately to put them together and make some sense of this. Yokomizo puts this puzzle together in some beautiful sequences that really bring Lethe’s plight to life.
It’s after moments like these when Lethe has some clarity that we shift back to the real world. We see how this is affecting his wife and daughter. They care so much for him and it breaks their hearts to see him like this. Writer Miguel Peres seamlessly transitions from one setting to the next without missing a beat. Despite the abstract nature of some of the story elements, this journey is very easy to follow. More importantly, it’s absolutely gripping.
Some of the artwork can be a little flat at times and the forms can be somewhat hazy. This took some getting used to, but ultimately works for the overall tone of the book. Lethe’s entire perspective is skewed like this, so it fits with the tone.
As we bounce between the island and the real world, letterer Mario Freitas guides us through the story. Lethe’s thoughts are shown in a simple font, mirroring his mindset. It contrasts with the standard font used for the dialogue in reality.
Fishing Memories is a poignant story showing how the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease spread far beyond the person experiencing it first hand. It’s a beautiful and fascinating journey.
Fishing Memories from Blue Fox Comics is coming soon to a Kickstarter near you.