Years ago, while taking an abnormal psychology course in university, I was first introduced to the fascinating (if somewhat gruesome) true story of Phineas Gage, a Vermont railway worker who suffered a horrific and near-fatal accident in the fall of 1848. An explosion launched a 3.5-foot iron tamping rod through Gage’s skull. Though he survived, friends and family noted a distinct change in his personality and behaviour from then on. I’ve always been intrigued by the case, and it has become something of a legend in the annals of human biology and neuroscience.
This piece, a cover design for a fictitious graphic novel based on the infamous tale, features illustrations rendered on black scratchboard, along with a colour palette and typography chosen to convey an eerie Gothic horror tone. Maybe someday, I will write and illustrate this book myself; in the meantime, it’s fun to imagine what a collaboration between Frank Miller and Fiona Staples might look like.

(Above: archival medical illustration of the injury to Gage’s skull, and photograph of Gage himself posing with the tamping iron that nearly killed him.)

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