Ellen Forney

Ellen Forney (born March 8, 1968) is an American cartoonist, educator, and wellness coach. She is known for her autobiographic comics which include I was Seven in '75; I Love Led Zepellin; and Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me[1]. She teaches at the Cornish College of the Arts. Her work covers mental illness, political activism, drugs, and the riot grrrl movement.[2] Currently, she is based in Seattle, Washington.[3]

Ellen Forney
Ellen Forney with pen stache.jpg
Born (1968-03-08) March 8, 1968 (age 52)
OccupationCartoonist, author
EducationWesleyan University,
Notable worksI was Seven in '75; I Love Led Zepellin,
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me,
Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life


Forney received a B.A. degree from Wesleyan University, where she majored in psychology.[4]

In the 1990s, she produced the autobiographical strip I Was Seven in '75, which ran in Seattle's alternative-weekly paper The Stranger.[5] She self-published a collection in 1997 with a Xeric Foundation grant.[6] A complete collection was published as Monkey Food by Fantagraphics in 1999.

In 2006 she published I Love Led Zeppelin, which collected comics she had done for various newspapers and magazines, and included collaborations with Margaret Cho, Kristin Gore, Camille Paglia, and Dan Savage.[4] It was nominated for an Eisner Award as Best Reality-Based Comic.[7][8] In 2007 she illustrated Sherman Alexie's young-adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won the National Book Award.[9][10][11] In 2008 she published Lust which adapted personal ads from The Stranger into illustrated/comics form.[12]

Her graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me[13] addressed her experiences with bipolar disorder.[14] Specifically, the memoir deals with how Forney perceives her mental illness in relation to her art, as well as her fears about medication diminishing her creativity.[15] Forney also notes the role mental illness has played in other artists lives, referring to a list of artists and writers with depression as "Club Van Gogh."[16] It was published by Penguin Books' Gotham Books imprint in November 2012,[17][18] and it was a New York Times Bestseller.[19]Marbles featured prominently in a graphic medicine exhibit that Forney curated for the U.S. National Library of Medicine.[20]

Forney's 2018 book Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life is a graphic self-help guide, published by Fantagraphics. In it, Forney promotes her personal acronym for self-care: SMEDMERTS, which stands for Sleep, Meds, Eat, Doctor, Mindfulness, Exercise, Routine, Tools, Support System.[2]

Other workEdit

Ellen Forney is also the artist responsible for "Crossed Pinkies" and "Walking Fingers", two murals in the South Transit Capitol Hill light rail station at Seattle.[21] She also is open for commissions such as portraits, wedding invitations, and tattoo designs.[22] More recently, Forney started offering wellness coaching for those who suffer from bipolar disorder.[23] She also connects with audiences about graphic medicine, health, and comics in frequent speaking engagements.[24]

Personal lifeEdit

Forney identifies herself as bisexual.[25] She was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in 1998.[26]


  • MONKEY FOOD: The Complete "I Was Seven in '75" Collection, Fantagraphic Books (1999).
  • I Love Led Zeppelin: Panty-Dropping Comics, Fantagraphics Books (2006).
  • Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads from Seattle's The Stranger, Fantagraphics Books (2008).
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, Art by Ellen Forney, Little Brown (2007).
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, Gotham/Penguin Books (2012).
  • Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, Fantagraphics (2018).


  • 2013: Inkpot Award[27]
  • 2013: National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis "Gradiva" winner in Art for Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir[28]
  • 2012: Stranger Genius Award winner for Literature[29]
  • 2007: National Book Award winner and New York Times Book of the Year for her art in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Going 'Marbles': From Manic Highs To Oceanic Lows". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  2. ^ a b Lehoczky, Etelka. "In 'Rock Steady,' Ellen Forney Combines Mental Health Advice, Artistry and Wit". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  3. ^ "Ellen Forney - Bio". ellenforney.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  4. ^ a b Benedetti, Winda (August 7, 2006). "Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney embraces our oddities". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  5. ^ "Comic creator: Ellen Forney | Lambiek Comiclopedia". Lambiek.net. 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  6. ^ "Ellen Forney - "I'm Okay, You're Okay!" (vol III/iss 2/February 2000)". Sequential Tart. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  7. ^ The Comics Reporter
  8. ^ [1] Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Philly-linked artist adds life to award-winning book". Philly.com. 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  10. ^ Hiskes, Jonathan (December 10, 2008). "Northwest Fiction Rooted in the Region". Crosscut. Seattle, WA. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2012-07-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Graves, Jen (February 13, 2008). "New in Books". The Stranger. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  13. ^ Forney, Ellen (2012). Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir: Ellen Forney: 9781592407323: Amazon.com: Books. ISBN 978-1592407323.
  14. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/bipolar-disorder-ellen-forney_n_5823138.html
  15. ^ Wolk, Douglas (December 14, 2012). "At the Panel's Edge: 'Marbles,' by Ellen Forney, and More". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  16. ^ "Memoir Traces How Cartoonist Lost Her 'Marbles'". NPR.org. NPR. November 26, 2012. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  17. ^ The Bipolar Cartoonist: Ellen Forney’s ‘Marbles’, Publishers Weekly. By Grace Bello. November 05, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  18. ^ David Low, Forney ’89 Writes Graphic Novel on Bipolar Disorder, The Wesleyan Connection (Wesleyan University), 2012-11-15. Accessed 2012-11-17.
  19. ^ "Bestsellers: Paperback Graphic Books". The New York Times. November 18, 2012. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  20. ^ "Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived & Well-Drawn!". U.S. National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  21. ^ "Ellen Forney - Public Art". www.ellenforney.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  22. ^ "Ellen Forney - Graphic Artist". ellenforney.com. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  23. ^ "Ellen Forney the Rock Steady Coach". www.rocksteadycoach.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  24. ^ "Ellen Forney - Public Art". ellenforney.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  25. ^ Bello, Grace (November 7, 2012). "Page Turner: Ellen Forney". Curve.
  26. ^ Salkowitz, Rob. "Self-Described 'Crazy Artist' Ellen Forney Offers 'Rock Steady' Advice On Staying Balanced". Forbes. Forbes Media LLC. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  27. ^ list of Inkpot Award:Comic-Con
  28. ^ National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis 2013 "Gradiva" Awards Archived 2014-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, naap.org. Accessed online 2014-03-04.
  29. ^ The Stranger Genius Awards: The Event, thestranger.com. Accessed online 2012-11-21.

External linksEdit