Anxiety can’t be ignored.
It’s not something an individual can just change about themselves. It’s a constant fight, and a badge of honor to survive.
I’ve always wanted to tell the story of my battle with my personal Glass Ceiling. Since I was diagnosed with anxiety, it’s been an endless fight—and this graphic memoir is my war cry. I wanted to give it a voice and show no shame. So many others suffer from mental illness and there’s a stigma attached to it. This book showcases the disorder and its true effects.
Click on the Sample Pages to View
Prose, poetry & design tell the story of an artists struggle with mental illness.
I approached Float as a challenge. If I didn’t feel safe creatively, I knew I was on the right path. I used several art styles in the book to differentiate between the two stories that converge with an illustrated anxiety attack. I have found art to be the most therapeutic tool I have to battle my anxiety disorder. And it’s an easier way to share what I go through with family and friends.
An opera of visceral high and lows, four music tracks bring the story to life.
The songs for Float each portray an important part of the main character’s struggle as depicted in the book. My friend and musician, Victor Guest, always loved the way Broadway musicals told a tale and wanted these recordings to have that feeling and sound. He worked with a lot of my drafts for the book to shape the lyrics, even composing some of the songs using my own words. While other songs were written by Victor based on his own experiences with me. Every line sung is important in describing the pain, confusion and despair of his memoir.
The instrumentation also carries a crucial role in the storytelling by mimicking the emotion of every scene; each string section, piano part and sound texture serves a purpose in the narrative. “I’ve never created anything like this before.” Victor explained to me, “My hope is that it brings a little more attention to the topic of anxiety and mental illness, and the daily battle that so many people have to endure.”
Once just a voice inside your mind, Anxiety is real now. A physical being formed by your blood and pain. He’s more powerful than ever and wants to bring you to complete ruin. You’ve lost loves, jobs and more because of Anxiety’s hold on you. But now that you’re putting up a fight, he’s tightening his grip and making one last stand. He wants your undivided attention and love. Anxiety wants you to burn up in the fire he’s lit. Anxiety wants you — all of you.
Our main character, David is superficially handsome according to the Hollywood set standards. He has a strong chin and jawline, he has a full head of blonde hair and he has a six pack of abs. David also suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and his life has been wrecked by Anxiety at every turn. He has lost jobs and lovers, but Anxiety has always been there for him. After his wife leaves him, David asks Anxiety to take over. David’s doctor invites him to take part in a new exploratory form of therapy at a remote island in the Pacific. David agrees to go but knows it won’t be easy to convince Anxiety to take a vacation.
The Worm is you and I and David. The Worm is how we see ourselves and he was born to suffer. Once he had beautiful wings, but Anxiety set them on fire. He tries to make it through a world populated by painful memories and escape being run down by the Meat Plow. David draws the Worm. And I draw David.
I am me. And I am David. And I am the Worm.
And I am Anxiety.
This is my story.
Born on Long Island, NY and raised in Pennsylvania, Howie Noel always drew. Born with a strong conviction to become a cartoonist, Noel would draw Garfield, Snoopy and Dick Tracy endlessly. In high school he created his first comic strip, The Boonies, published in the school paper. After graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY Howie created his first graphic novel, Mr. Scootles, published in 2008. In 2009, he started publishing the popular webcomic, Tara Normal, which has continued in print form now on sale on Amazon. In addition to his books, Noel is a professional illustrator and caricature artists. Some of his clients include T-Mobile, Medicare and CBS Radio. His art has also appeared on WWE Raw and TheWalkingDead.com. Howie was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in 2010 and looks to help others by sharing his history with mental illness in the graphic memoir Float.
Born and raised in New York City, Victor Guest grew up strumming an old acoustic guitar and writing songs about his favorite foods, imaginary friends, and his father’s puppet. Living a rather isolated childhood, Guest dedicated most of his time to creating music and art. He inevitably became part of New York City’s art and fashion scene which profoundly inspired his musical style. His music and his voice, affected by such strong influences, sound like a mix of glam rock, classic country, horror movies, and Broadway musicals. After a brief hiatus, Victor Guest now finds himself back with his first love of music. Inspired by Howie Noel’s book, Float, Guest composed a collection of four songs that pays tribute to Noel’s graphic memoir. These songs prove to have all the old influences but in a much bigger way.
Since meeting Howie way back in the 90’s, Shelley Noel has been co-creating projects with him, helping to bring his illustrative vision to life in alternative mediums like video and web. From their first short film together, Eight Hours Earlier, it was apparent that the two type-A creatives were a match for explosiveness. As any creative knows, the process is (truthfully) pretty painful, but no pain, no gain. And the harder it is, the better, more insightful the work. It’s with passion and pleasure that Shelley helps bring this story to fans through this site, allowing Float devotees to discover and share the power within themselves to take life by the horns.