As a kid, his mother's illness scared him — now he's using comics to come to terms

When he was young, courageous comic characters inspired Von Allan to stay strong — and now they're helping him to become the superhero of his own life.

'When you're going through difficult times, you find escape that keeps you sane. I found that through comics'

Comic book artist Von Allan on telling his mother's story the right way: "I think my mom, if she could have seen the story, I think she would have liked it." Warning: this video contains explicit language. 4:07

Warning: this video contains explicit language.

The odds were stacked against Von Allan. As a small child, he had to cope with poverty, bullying, loneliness and his mother's severe mental health problems. But just when it looked as though everything was lost, comic book superheroes came to the rescue.

Courageous comic characters inspired young Von to stay strong — and now they're helping him to become the superhero of his own life. Today, Von is a self-taught professional comic artist based in Ottawa whose acclaimed graphic novels include the road to god knows... and Stargazer. He has also created a digital series entitled Metal Gods.

In this video, Von takes us on a tour of his creative process, from how he first came to the art form to why he continues to express himself through comic illustration. It's a story about resilience, self-expression and the power of art.

(CBC Arts)

(Note from the artist: Von Allan's methodology and artistic approach have evolved since the publication of the road to god knows... There is a variation between the illustrations featured in this film and the graphic novel's original illustrations.)

Von Allan's story is part of the documentary I am Still Your Child airing on Absolutely Quebec on CBC on September 16. After that, you can see I am Still Your Child online here. And you can find out more about Von Allan here.

Watch Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 12:30 a.m. (1 NT) and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. (4NT) on CBC Television.

About the Author

Montreal-based filmmaker Megan Durnford made her first foray into documentary film with Just a Lawn (2007), a short documentary about the dark side of "perfect" lawns. It went on to screen at 14 international film festivals. In 2011, Megan directed the Golden Sheaf-nominated documentary Une brique à la fois, an affectionate portrayal of four Quebec adult LEGO builders. She is currently completing the medium-length documentary I am Still Your Child about children of parents with mental illness.