“You’ve been living in a world full of nonsense, David. No one has been telling you the truth about anything.” – Thoughts on Stitches by David Small
Memoirs are often written; David Small drew his. What Augusten Burroughs accomplished with thousands of words in Running with Scissors, Small also did in panels of black and white in his graphic biography, Stitches.
Raised in Detroit by a complicated mother and a radiologist for a father, David wasn’t much of anything growing up; he was a kid, acted like a kid, got bullied sometimes and got scolded often. Then a lump started growing on his neck – a harmless lump that was operated on three and half years after the initial diagnosis. Only, that harmless lump caused him one of his vocal cords – and turned out not to be as harmless as he’s been told.
Being an illustrator for children’s books, Small’s lines and ink washes are in their simplest forms, yet they carry such a weight that conveys the complications, confusions, and bleakness of his childhood. The profile sketches are beyond simple illustrations themselves – with a few strokes he’s conjured facial expressions so powerful that the anger or sadness felt by the characters transcend paper and ink.
Every family is loony and dark and psychotic in its own way – such is a familiar theme with memoirists. But Small’s story is far removed from the tragic, comedic, dysfunctional family saga – and with it being drawn instead of written, Stitches is a memoir subcategory in itself.
PS. Think of Alfred Hitchcock, only drawn.