Cover image for Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance: A Fable for Grownups By Kathleen Founds

Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance

A Fable for Grownups

Kathleen Founds

“Zany with a zinger of a political message.”


200 pages
6.5" × 8.5"
195 color illustrations

The system isn’t broken, Mr. Nibbles. It was designed this way.

Theodore is a bear with wild mood swings. When he is up, he carves epic poetry into tree trunks. When he is down, he paints sad faces on rocks and turtle shells. In search of prescription medications that will bring stability to his life, Theodore finds a job with health insurance benefits. He gets the meds, but when he can’t pay the psychiatrist’s bill, he becomes lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims.

This witty and colorful tale follows the comical exploits of Theodore, a loveable and relatable bear, as he copes with bipolar disorder, navigates the inequities of capitalist society, founds a commune, and becomes an activist, all the while accompanied by a memorable cast of characters—fat-cat insurance CEOs, a wrongfully convicted snake, raccoons with tommy guns, and an unemployed old dog who cannot learn new tricks.

Entertaining, whimsical, and bitingly satirical, Bipolar Bear is a fable for grownups that manages the delicate balance of addressing society’s ills while simultaneously presenting a hopeful vision for the world.

“Zany with a zinger of a political message.”
“Kathleen Founds is a luminous, bright, subversive, and very funny writer. What I especially love about her work is the sense that her strange and wonderful talent is always working in the service of a deeply humane and hopeful vision of the world.”
“This delightful, effortless read keeps us happily afloat over some serious and deeply consequential terrain. Plus wonderful pictures!”
“A satire with heart.”
“Theodore is an adorable everyman who falls into the dreaded vortex of insurance claims—no creature this cute should have to suffer what millions of Americans go through right when they need help the most. In one crafty panel after another, Founds wittily eviscerates this mess with tenderness for its hapless victims and merciless venom for the profiteers. Bipolar Bear is biting satire and call for action presented in some of the most captivating illustrations I’ve ever seen.”
“A clever and compelling allegory, Bipolar Bear makes us think deeply about social justice and healthcare reform through the misadventures of a lovable bear named Theodore who gets caught in the dark underbelly of our problematic insurance industry. With beautiful art that is at once playful and evocative, this graphic novel is as humorous as it is enraging. Theodore and the supporting cast of lovable animals manage to make the issues only all the more human. Founds has written a perfect fable for our times.”
Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance is, I promise, unlike any book you've ever read — like all of Kathleen Founds's work, it is full of delight and sorrow, of lightness and profundity, of silliness and deep intelligence, often all on the same page. I so admired the brilliant and capacious imagination on display in these pages.”
“Kathleen Founds is one of my favorite young writer-artists in America, and Bipolar Bear—by turns hilarious and heart-breaking—is her finest work yet. I loved this book.”

Kathleen Founds is the author of the prize-winning When Mystical Creatures Attack! Her work has appeared in the New Yorker online, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Good Housekeeping, The Sun, The Rumpus, The Hairpin, Buzzfeed, and Salon, among other publications. She teaches fiction writing at Cabrillo College and philosophy of nonviolence at Cal State Monterey Bay. Her website is