Capital Theatres and Bold Scotland launch graphic novel about living with dementia

Contributors of Capital Theatres and Bold Scotland's graphic novel collaboration 

Capital Theatres and Bold Scotland have launched a graphic novel called My Wonky Brain following the life of Willy Gilder, who lives with dementia. Conceived by Willy and Valeria Lembo, with funding from Bold and edited by Alex Howard of Capital Theatres, the novel aims to be the first of its kind. It has been written and illustrated by an intergenerational group of children and adults aged between 12 and 16. This pioneering project aims to introduce children to the concept of dementia from an early age, and help them to understand family members or friends who might be living with the condition.  

Willy Gilder is a former BBC journalist, writer and illustrator who was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease in 2021. Since being diagnosed, Willie has been a very active member of the dementia community, promoting the importance of creative and occupational therapy and even presenting Capital Theatre’s dementia-friendly podcast, All The World’s A Stage 

Pupils from the Edinburgh ESMS and Steiner Schools worked with Valeria Lembo and Alex Howard to create My Wonky Brain. They interviewed Willy Gilder to learn about his life and experience of living with dementia first-hand, and then used his stories to write the novel. A another participant living with dementia, Gerry King, was also interviewed. Illustration was overseen by professional comic artist Maria Stoian with further workshop facilitation by theatre professional, Adam Roberton.  

My Wonky Life is available at the Festival Theatre Cafe and via Bold Scotland, but there are hopes it will be stocked in Edinburgh community hubs in the future.  

Alex Howard, Creative Engagement Coordinator at Capital Theatres, said: 

“This has been a delightful wee project and a true testament to the creative tenacity of Willy Gilder who, since 2021, has bombarded his dementia diagnosis with creativity, optimism and a desire for better depictions of the dementia experience. The willingness of the children to showcase Willy’s life through art and writing was truly inspirational to watch and has made the editing of My Wonky Brain a real delight. I hope the project goes some way towards challenging dementia stigma while revealing the magic that can come about through intergenerational work.” 

Valeria Lembo, Project Leader said: 

“It was a great joy to coordinate this project and see it getting real, from the early days when I approached Willy and Alex with the idea of realising a graphic short novel on dementia, through the making process during our workshops until today where we are going to hold the printed book for the first time. What struck me the most was the great exchange I witnessed between participants with dementia and the young participants. Exchanges like this show how important Intergenerational work is and that dementia can be approached with curiosity and creativity, rather than stigma.” 

Access the pdf version of My Wonky Brain below, find printed copies in the Festival Theatre cafe, or contact us at for more options.


Find out more about Capital Theatre's dementia friendly work