By: Hess Sahlollbey
If there’s one thing that we take for granted, it is our voice. What happens though when we lose that ability?
It’s a thought that hadn’t crossed my mind until I heard the premise of Dumb, a comic by Hamiltonian artist Georgia Webber.
Dumb is Webber’s autobiographical retelling of her experiences and hardships with an injury that forced her to live without a voice.
In October 2012, Georgia learned that a severe vocal cord strain would force her to live near voiceless in order for her strain to fully recover.
Her vocal rest treatment allowed her to only speak for less than 30 minutes a day, but often led her to going weeks at a time without speaking at all.
Dumb was first recommended to me by Marvel Comics artist Michael Walsh. Following his glowing review of the book, I tracked down a copy at Mixed Media where Dave, the owner of the store, also spoke highly of the series.
Their recommendations however did not prepare me for just how heartfelt and emotionally moving the work was.
When I first met Webber, I was captivated by her ability express herself in the most eloquent manner in person and on the page.
I asked her when the thought of creating a comic about her experiences came to her. She responded with a firm “immediately” before getting up to grab us water.
“I have to drink a lot of water, it is part of the rehabilitation process for my voice,” she explained as she poured us each a glass.
“I needed the title of the series to be simple. I knew straight away that it tied into not speaking and the implications that come with that.”
Given the personal nature of the subject matter, Webber was quick to point out that to her, comics provide the purest vision of the creator.
“I’ve never been interested in watching my work on a screen. [In comics] each creator has to start from nothing and it was really about synthesizing and taking lots of components in the comic book medium.”
The writing, illustrating and publishing was entirely in the hands of Webber.
“Every issue before I had a publisher were fully produced works on my part. I’d draw them on normal printer paper, with Microns and Pentel brush pens, then scan them and use a computer to clean them up and move things around before folding and stapling them,” said Webber.
“I started by printing runs of 200 that would sell out. Then 350 then 500 before I finally decided to outsource that part of the process to have them printed professionally.”
The series continues to be selling well, however, the future of Dumb remains a little more uncertain. Webber intends for the series to end with issue 10, but it remains unpublished.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish the series. I have two issues left but with the chronic pain in my hands I just don’t know when I’ll get the chance to wrap everything up. I hope that it’ll be by the end of the year but I just don’t know right now.”
Regardless of that uncertainty, the series so far still has rightfully earned its positive recommendations reception comic readers.
This is the medium that Webber’s story was meant to be told in, revealed not only by her account, but by the strength of Dumb as a whole reading experience.
Physical issues of Dumb are available at Mixed Media on 152 James Street N. or online at georgiasdumbproject.com.