‘I Think About Whitney’: A Whitney Houston Comic Takes a Hard Look at Domestic Abuse
Although she was among the most awarded and beloved of American pop singers, Whitney Houston was also among the most troubled. The 48-year-old star, who was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room last Saturday, was for a long period of her life known as much for her volatile marriage to fellow singer Bobby Brown as she was for her vocal performances. In its obituary for Houston, The New York Times references her relationship with Brown as “marred by drug use and by his professional jealousy, psychological abuse and physical confrontations,” themes that Houston discussed openly in a famous Oprah Winfrey interview that is certainly one of the most high profile conversations about unhealthy relationships that’s been seen in the American media.
Houston’s story resonated with many, including Swedish cartoonist Liv Strömquist, who was inspired to cast the singer and her husband in a comic strip parable about the nature of abusive relationships. I Think About Whitney was published by Top Shelf in the 2010 anthology From the Shadow of the Northern Lights (Vol 2), and the publisher has re-released it this week in tribute to the late entertainer. You can read the entire I Think About Whitney after the cut.Despite the grim subject matter, Strömquist’s comic is ultimately life-affirming. The cartoonist delves into the psychology of abuse, explaining how a person in abusive circumstances can convince themselves that things are not as bad as they really are, and invokes lyrics from the songs Houston sang to express how someone in her situation can escape find their way out.