About Mardou

I’m a British cartoonist based in St Louis, MO and I’ve been making comics for almost half my life. I got my BA in English Literature from the University of Wales and after graduation began writing and illustrating self-published comics, mostly stories about young women trying to figure out life.

In 2015, my Ignatz-nominated comic book series Sky in Stereo became a graphic novel from Revival House Press. Shortlisted for the Slate Studio Prize (2016) and named as an Outstanding Comic of 2015 by the Village Voice, it follows the teenage years of Iris, who opts out of her family’s religion and drifts into drug use and mental illness. Influenced by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and the music scene of Manchester in the early 1990s, it met critical acclaim upon release.

“Even during Iris’s most disorienting trips, Mardou refrains from visual pyrotechnics, opting instead for a writerly approach. She intimately acquaints readers with a solid, reliable character, making us her sole confidantes, only later revealing how badly Iris has been fraying all along.” —The Globe and Mail

In 2019 I began sharing comics about the therapy process online and the warm response and readership I found encouraged me to evolve these ‘therapy stories’ into a chronological map of my therapy sessions, weaving in my childhood story. I approached a literary agent who helped me write a book proposal for this idea and the rights were sold to Avery/Penguin USA in 2021. It took another two years of writing, drawing and input from my wonderful editor but this became my graphic memoir Past Tense: Facing Family Secrets and Finding Myself to be released October 2024.

I’m married to the cartoonist Ted May and we have a teenage daughter and two tortico cats.

About these comics

These comics inspired by the Internal Family Systems therapy model (or IFS) began as something I drew for myself in my sketchbook as a way to record and help integrate the work I’d done in sessions with my therapist.

When I began tentatively sharing them on social media, people really responded and I was surprised and a little freaked out by the interest. But I kept sharing them (as much as my parts are comfortable with) and the many kind responses and personal stories people have been brave enough to share with me really encouraged me to keep making this work.

We all struggle, at one time or another, with emotions and relationships and just with being human. Learning the IFS model and applying it to my inner life has helped me so much. I’m happy in some small way to share my own experience with the process and perhaps shed light on what happens during an IFS session.

After two years of working with my parts and gaining repeated access to my Self, my inner system is so much calmer, more self-compassionate and confident. This method has been a way for me to understand myself really well and I feel I’ve got the ability now to let my Self lead me through the storms of life.

In the words of Louisa May Alcott: I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

These strips jump around over two years of work, with two different therapists, and include a lot of Self-therapy enquiries (mainly using Richard Schwartz audio CDs: Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts and Meditations for Self.

Disclaimer: These comics represent my own views and experiences and are not intended to be a substitute for professional or therapeutic advice, treatment or diagnosis.

For more information about the IFS model visit the Center for Self Leadership.

About IFS

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a model used by psychotherapists, health practitioners, business people, and others around the world. It is a client-centered model created by Dr. Richard Schwartz to help clients (and practitioners) nurture Self-leadership to heal their internal parts.

Central to the concept of IFS is that we all have an undamaged, core Self that is the essence of who we are. Richard Schwartz identified three different types of sub-personalities or ‘Parts’ that reside within each person, in addition to the Self. These include wounded and suppressed parts called exiles, protective parts called managers, that keep the exiled parts suppressed, and other protective parts called firefighters, that distract the Self from the pain of exiled parts when they are released.


IFS recognizes people as being whole, underneath this collection of parts. The goal of IFS is for the protectors to come to trust the Self so they will allow it to lead the system and create internal harmony under its guidance.