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Tuesday, March 11 • 10:30am - 12:30pm
GLOBAL DOC DAYS: Here's Johnny

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Here's Johnny enters the surreal world of famous graphic artist Johnny Hicklenton, who is battling against Multiple Sclerosis. Living in an increasing state of immobility and frustration, Johnny escapes the confines of his frontroom through his artwork. Through the expression of his brilliant and sometimes troubled imagination we learn about the disease that he cannot escape from.Multiple Sclerosis is a disease generally associated with the old, infirm and wheelchair-bound. Johnny, was diagnosed with MS 7 years ago, when he was just 33 years old, sending his flourishing career in the comicbook world into disarray. We started filming his progress 4 years ago and have been following the developments in his life ever since. This documentary will retrospectively highlight the key points in Johnny's 'war against the disease'. The film begins in late 2006 Ð Johnny is ill, distressed and can no longer walk. He is about to start a new drug called GOAT, which he feels is his last hope; he wants it to work desperately for himself and for the sake of everyone involved in his life. The documentary then goes back to 2002 and moves through the last four years of Johnny's life, a moving expression of his thoughts, feelings and artistic interpretations of key moments whilst fighting the disease. He is funny, philosophical and creative in his exposition. We journey through the different treatments that Johnny tries in his desperate bid to find something that will counter MS. The treatments are often bizarre and unsolicited, including the use of powder used to help the muscle tone of competition horses, electronic pads which create harsh spasms in his muscles, and Svengolin, which is the liquid form of the myelin sheath of a cow. We see Johnny's frustration at a disease which can make Johnny feel great for long periods, with significant relapses which show heavy deterioration. The documentary is grounded in a studio set in the present, where Johnny presents a retrospective link to the key decisions he made in his life.The documentary climaxes in the taking of GOAT, a controversial drug, whose reputation hinges on a video showing MS sufferers in wheelchairs walking 10 minutes after the first treatment. It has caused controversy in the MS world, but is still in great demand. It costs him £184 per week, but is yet to be trialled properly. Whilst he puts a brave face on the effects of GOAT, it has only helped to a small degree and we find Johnny at a stage in his life where his exuberance and faith in life is depleting with the ravages of this 'medieval' disease. Where does Johnny's future lie? Using evidence from medical experts, the audience will see how MS attacks the central nervous system, and the programme will examine the extreme effects of the disease in a visually arresting way. In direct opposition to the traditional ways of relating science, Here's Johnny will use the dark comic-book style that Johnny is famous for, incorporating animation and hand-drawn graphics to convey the medical information. Split screens using Johnny's drawings from the past few years will also be used to explore the link between MS, his life and his art. Here's Johnny presents Multiple Sclerosis through the eyes, words and images of one of the most inspiring artists of his generation. He is an incredible man, and despite his ever-worsening disability is now drawing for Judge Dredd again (to be launched for Dredd's 30th anniversary in 2007!). For Johnny, to draw is to live. Here's Johnny aims to document this amazing man's journey.

Tuesday March 11, 2008 10:30am - 12:30pm
Austin Suite @ ACC - BADGES ONLY

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