You Are Not Alone was created, initially as a one-shot comic anthology, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. Understanding that such violence and horror begins somewhere, and that there are far too many more who suffer in silence, Andrew Goletz hit kickstarter at a sprint, and put together the first issue with GreyHaven Comics and a lot of other talented contributors. They wanted to help, so they found a way to do so.
Unsurprisingly, it's not an easy read. Trigger warnings apply throughout for bullying, abuse, racism, rape, violence, self-harm, suicide, and a whole lot of other things; but that shouldn't be surprising either, given the point behind the comic. But the message is overwhelmingly positive: each of those TWs sits alongside a lot of hope.
Many visitors to this site will see themselves, and their circumstances, in this comic - I know I did, and plenty - but it was more than just the personal familiarity which hit me while reading: even things which were entirely out of my experience touched me, often just by the simplicity and sensitivity with which a complex issue was brought up.
The poems that bookend a collection of comics, drawn in a never-ending variety of styles, are touching and full of hope. The helplines, websites, advice and warning signs dotted throughout made a good addition to the messages of hope in each of the stories being told.
Very noteworthy is that nowhere will you see a promise of an easy fix - in fact, in Elaine's Story about living with depression, this is stated in no uncertain terms. There is no easy fix, but as many of the stories - such as the Midnight Mask: In A Better World piece - remind us that the smallest act of kindness can change a whole life.
A running theme is the idea that heroes are everyday people like you and I, who dare to stand up to someone, or to defend someone. In Forward, we are starkly reminded of all the people throughout the past generations have been persecuted, and how each improvement, each battle, required those already priviledged to step up in support of those who were not.
Things end, and the future exists even if we can't see it yet - as The Road reminds us; but along the way, sometimes we need help, and sometimes somebody else needs our help.
The message of the comic is exactly as the title states: nobody is alone. That's a message worth spreading, and within these pages everybody should find something which speaks to them.
You can check out the comic in its entirety on the GreyHaven website here: http://www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/you-are-not-alone
A second comic is due out later this year, and a third is already in production.
Rating: 4/5. Purpose met and exceeded.