Reviews: The CF Diaries – The Selfish Gene

Published On October 10, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

The CF Diaries – Issue 1 – The Selfish Gene

By Andrew Godfrey

Right, first things first, this certainly isn’t anywhere near the finished article, it’s rough, it’s raw as hell. And in some respects that’s actually the point. This is one of those self published comics that you just get the feeling the artist needs to get out there, telling a story he needs to tell.

And it’s certainly a story worth reading, the tale of Godfrey’s dealings with his Cystic Fibrosis and how it impacts and alters his life. Yes, it’s raw, yes, it’s rough  but dear god, it’s visceral and powerful in its way. The cover should give you some idea; there’s a good design sense in there, the image of the lungs, the people, the very idea of the selfish gene epitomised really nicely, but damn there’s some ragged as hell lettering. The good design and the good storytelling outweighs the amateur stuff in the end.

Anyway, inside we have Godfrey telling the story of his life,and his relationship with his Cystic Fibrosis, starting from the unusual standpoint of his obsession with super-masochist Bob Flanagan, fellow CF survivor, and that guy who regularly nailed his dick to a plank of wood. It’s certainly a visceral way to start off this story, setting Flanagan up as the man Godfrey took as his hero at age 17.

Godfrey keeps going past this, proceeding to spin us a raw, emotive, powerful tale of life dealing with a terminal illness, of his refusal to be defined by it, his refusal to give in, blah, blah, blah………

I was writing a long thing following on from “his refusal to give in” and I found myself falling into the slightly patronising thing beloved of people talking about people talking about their illnesses.

But the thing is, I get the impression from reading this that Godfrey would bloody well hate being eulogised in print, hate being praised for being “strong“, and I imagine any mention of “inspirational” would severely piss him off.

So no, although this is one of a new breed of comics about illness, part of the whole Graphic Medicine school, it certainly isn’t one approaching it from a passive victim’s perspective – as Godfrey says later in the comic, he dislikes the whole “poster-child” phenomenon of cute children being the acceptable face of illness. He prefers a little more honesty, raw and true.

As Godfrey points out to us as early as he can, this is his life, and it just so happens it revolves around his body, and what a mess his body can be. But his life also revolves around his attitude to life, which isn’t always the best, and he’s refreshingly honest in pointing out that he can be just as stupid, dumb, self-obsessed, lazy, drifting, delusional, guilt ridden, and generally messed up as the rest of us. It’s just he’s got something else to worry about that most of us haven’t.

So, not the most fun you’re ever going to have in a comic perhaps, but it’s enthralling, the amateurish artwork, screaming out loud raw, doesn’t really matter, after all – this is a screaming out loud sort of comic.

Artistically there are times where Godfrey’s primitive style works, and there are times it just fails on a huge scale. He makes massive use of huge chunks of text to tell his tale, share his ideas, give us his thoughts. And he also, sadly, makes massive use of what looks like marker pen as well to fill in his blacks.

BUT, like I said, this is raw, because the story is raw. Julie Douchet was raw, but damn she was good. Now, Godfrey is no Douchet, but there’s something in here that made me sit and pay attention.

This is one of those comics that serves no other purpose than to let the artist have their say. You might like it, you might not. I don’t think it matters a damn. This is one of those that just needed to be out there. Godfrey has done that. It’s intense, it’s more intriguing than entertaining, and no, not inspiring, that’s about the last thing Godfrey would want. Let’s just say it’s educational. That’s as much as you’ll get. But it definitely caught my attention and had hold of me.

The CF Diaries Issue 1 is available from Godfrey via his blog.

Like this Article? Share it!

About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

Comments are closed.