At times it’s not easy to separate the art from the artist, especially if they reveal parts of themselves in the stories they tell. If a cartoonist has serious depression, if you have characters who’re very irritable, depressed or suicidal then these share the author’s experiences and innermost feelings in a way the former’s not always aware of. It’s a red flag if some of the characters are depressed and some have powers that induce suicidal thoughts.
(I could be referring to somebody as heard in a sermon but I won’t reveal them for now.)
In the case with Nate Stevenson, he was brought up as a lass in a strict Christian community and admitted in an interview that he left the church at age 19 and had struggled with Christianity. This gets reflected a lot in the one programme he worked on for a long time, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He even projects this onto the stories he writes so much not only do fans reveal things he doesn’t realise but also relate to it on some level.
In the case with Carl Barks, he worked as a farmer for some time so it gets reflected in some of the stories he writes. Having actual experience in something gives a stronger air of authenticity in a way that being interested in something doesn’t, so much so it works for other stories to their advantage. But this also makes it harder to separate the art from the artist, especially if it reflects their experiences and thoughts.
To return to the case of the depressed cartoonist, if a good number of characters have symptoms of depression and the author turns out to be depressed one would have to look at the red flags to know what they’re suffering from. Having depression can get reflected in the way the characters are written, but as I said before it makes it harder to separate the art from the artist once the latter’s outed as depressed.
That would surprise fans, even though the red flags are there in the stories for us to see. But that goes to show you how difficult it is to separate the art from the artist, especially if the art reflects what the artist experiences or feels.