Page 1

Here are things I’ve thought, snippets of conversations I’ve had, some of it fictionalized, some of it real. Some of which happened a lot of which hasn’t. There is often hard lines to autobiography and in storytelling, lines we must distinguish between what is real and what’s made up. But in the brief time I’ve been alive, I’ve had many conversations in my head, many in real life too, that felt like they belonged in a script. My life on its own is not interesting enough nor magical enough, to write a word for word account of. But in my almost 23 years of being alive, I’ve experienced a handful of things that made me question who I was and why I’m alive and why nothing makes sense and also, why sometimes things happen and things follow those things and all of the sudden, things do make sense. That’s what this story is about.

In a moment in my life where I find myself propelling into more unknown, I find comfort in connecting all the disconnected thoughts and conversations into one narrative that makes me feel like a character in a movie, hurtling towards something. If there’s one thing I’ve figured out, it’s that storytelling makes me feel alive and reminds me why I’m here and it makes me feel seen, it gives me the courage to say all the things I wish I’d said, and have the conversations I wish I could have but instead live in my head. When I draw them out they’re real, and there’s a version of me on the page I can’t erase or see anywhere else.

Sometimes, I think the truth is not a picture, but an illustration. Lines made up on the spot, expressions carved from exaggeration, deprived of nuance, existing in the madeup, surrealness that does exist in real life, if you just let yourself simmer in the unknown and imagine what could be, instead of pretending to be what you’re told or what you’re not. To me, that’s the power of comics. They show you the real, the grotesque, the underground, the alternative, all by disguise. They expose by metaphors, and caricatures, and suddenly you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of life and being alive. People are weird. We’re all weird. Why hide it? Why hide what you feel? What you’ve experienced? Maybe the real and the dreamed are one and the same because they’re connected to driving you where you want to be. That’s what this is all about. About living in the uncertainty, and finding possibility in the unknown, of which we have our whole lives to figure out what we want to fill it with. That sounds scary until you realize you can fantasize some of the absurd into reality, the whole saying make your dreams a reality can really exist…It starts at not giving up on yourself. dedIcated

my brother, theo. I hope you chase your dreams, too, t.

Introduct I on
-celIa ruley
“to shut your eyes Is to travel.“
emIly dIc kenson part one

hoW long Is that?

are We there yet?

about 20 mIle sIgns.

20 mIns!
only a buck, kId! just let her have It, jon. hmpf! 1 2 3 4 5 you can hang It on your Wall back home.

6, but I guarentee they all look the same InsIde.

see hoW It all looks the same?

W hIch one Is It?

here’s your drIp coffee,

hey, don’t get stuck at thIs coffeeshop, ’kay?

Where’s the cream and sugar?

s I gh

and next tIme, tell ’em to use the fIxIng s statIon.

o k a y


tWo someWhere
Is the purpose of
paul thek

I thInk the argument Is that you dIdn’t, though.

I could have paInted that.

but It’s lIterallyyy a fuckIng spIral! haha! I never saId It Was any good.

What’s even the purpose of art?

thInk they’d shoW my Work? haha! WIth that spIral? maybeee


to me, art Is about contemplat Ing hoW lIfe feels, and to relI v e ho W It s felt so far.

part three any Where
“We tell ourselves storIes In order to lIve.“ joan dIdIon

can I ask you a questIon?

a place?

yeah, lIke a person Is a person but they’re also a place.

I’ve spent my Whole lIfe WonderIng Where to go...

What do you Want?


I don’t knoW...I Want to see places, meet people...I Want to feel seen too,

I Want to feel lIke a place.

thIs story,

feelIng lIke I’m noWhere.

and I’ve had thIs story I’ve told myself about my lIfe, but It’s never panned out.

It’s stopped and started lIke, a zIllIon tImes

It makes me Wonder What holds me to anythIng at all...

Well, you k I nda have to be here, don’t you? you’re alIve, after all.

yeah, but sometImes lIfe makes you feel lIke you should Want more than that, y’knoW?

lIke you shouldn’t just Want to be alIve, you should Want to been seen, lIke a place.

not noWhere, but some W here people Want to vI sIt.

no W here Is stIll someW h ere even I f It d oesn’t feel lI ke I t’s any W here.

haha! are you dr. seuss or somethIng?

What’s the story you tell yourself?

Is a story I don’t just tell myself.

I don’t knoW, It’s so many thIngs... It changes all the tIme...

I guess What It Is...

you tell yourself a story because you Want someone else to hear It, to lIsten...

but the story I Want to tell Is thIs one.

It could be a song, or talkIng to you...

under the stars,

on the staIrs, on the porch,

It’s When I feel most alIve... When I forget I’m a person.

I could be on the fIre escape,

or on the phone, just hearIng your voIce.

In the car,

In motIon,

besIde you,

We feel We exIst, and nothIng else.

that’s What beIng alIve feels lIke,

It’s probably What the heavens feel lIke, too.

It’s What the desert feels lIke.

lIke a place you can’t vIsIt yet, but that you feel When someone sees you for Who you are.

end of the comIc strIp

There’s a trope of the “lonely cartoonist”, and there’s a trope to the way many comics show women that depict them as having to be saved. (I don’t want to be either. But getting to this requires some explanation because I am a bundle of restless contradictions.)

When I started this comic, I pitched the story as a question “How do you draw life as it happens to you?”. It’s a question I’ve thought about in various forms, but never put words to. Shaping my tangential thoughts into a question is what helped me figure out what story I was trying to tell, as I didn’t know what the story would be about or know even as I was writing, what note I was going to finish on. But see, that’s exactly the point. You don’t know with life what is your last word. You don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Over the years I have called myself many things. A drawer, then an illustrator, and now a cartoonist. They’re similar words for the same thing. As is the way with language, as is the way with storytelling.

I used to long for a straight-shot story. The kind where the path is clear and easy and goes according to plan. But my life has never gone according to plan, and I have made many plans. I tried to cling to plan A for a while but found that clinging to what once felt certain when it wasn’t anymore, made me even more uncertain. And so I just said “To hell with it! I’ll take the complicated, winding, loop-hole, fistfighting, grueling road and see what happens!” Turns out, life is complicated either way, but it’s way more interesting than originally planned, and I’d take interesting over comfortable 5 out of 7 days of the week (but a 2-day comfortable weekend is non-negotiable).

If life always went according to plan, if life always went according to the story, we wouldn’t spend our whole lives trying to get to know each other. And the truth is, there is nothing more lonely than having no one to talk to. I draw comics for many reasons, not all of them I’ll list because not all of them I know. Although, I can state confidently that I’ve loved comics since I discovered them.

Cartoonists have to be a special kind of weird to devote themselves to the isolating task of trying to capture conversation and mannerisms in little boxes. To spend hours sketching and inking and thinking about how people do things and how those things domino effect. As I wrote this story, I was very aware of every little detail and every way that I saw myself in this story despite the fact that this is not a story about my life. This comic is essentially my diary, though. It’s intimate, it’s personal, it’s my thoughts and dreams and my existential crisis, and it’s all the books I’ve ever read that made me feel seen and it’s all the people I’ve met that have made me question who I was and saw me for who I was.

The biggest existential question is “Why are We here?” and when rephrased “Why are You here?” it can send you spiraling. I think about this question an embarrassing amount. Anyone who knows me knows I’m very in my head, and very self-reflective. When I make comics, I get to ask myself the questions I wish someone would ask me because I wonder if being asked them would prompt the response I need to hear from myself. I talk things through. In my head, on a page, with people. I love, love, love to talk.

And comics are all talking even when the bubbles have popped and it’s just a scene, no text. The funny thing about identifying as a woman, and being female in this world, is that there is a trope that I should want to be saved. That someone should come to save me, right! now! But the only person who has ever saved me is myself, and that’s how I want this story to end because that’s how it always will be.

There is no person, no place, no feeling or thing that could save me completely aside from myself. And society will tell everyone, regardless of gender, to look to be saved, and rarely equip people with the tools to find it within their own power to do so. If this story is anything it is a reminder to myself to be myself, to trust myself, and know that wherever I go, I can make it there. I hope it’s a reminder to you too, that your story is entirely your own. And trust me, I know that’s terrifying, but just think about how beautiful it is to not know your potential, to not know where you’ll end up, but to trust that whenever you arrive, you’ll be just in time.

about the cartoonIst

c e lIa r uley donnelly

Is a cartoon Ist,and desIgner from durham, north carolIna. s he’s also lIved In vIr g I n I a and n eW york and loves to travel. s I n ce she Was n In e, she’s Wanted to make comI c s. “some Wh ere “ Is one of them.

to see more of her Work vI s I t:

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

for helpIng me fIgure out book layout stuff and gettIng me through thIs fInal semester.

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

specIal thanks

for WelcomIng me to vcu, teachIng me about comIcs hIstory and alWays beIng WIllIng to chat comIcs. you are mIssed. rest In peace.

for teachIng me draWIng trIcks and helpIng me get Into college, and tellIng me to not gIve up on my comIcs.

specIal thanks to: lauren thornson to: cIndy jackson to: floyd hughes to: raIna telgemeIer

It’s because of you tWo, a WrIter and a photographer Who fell In love, that my love of Image and type Was born. thank you forever for beIng Who you are.

because you ansWered my questIons In an onlIne chat once about makIng comIcs, and It gave me the courage to start.

to: my frIends

Who have supported and encouraged me throughout thIs project and lIstened to my Wacky Ideas. also for sendIng and lendIng me comIcs. you all are WoW, WoW, WoW for that!

to: my parents to: mIra

movIng to rIchmond Was hardest because I couldn’t explaIn to you Why I Was leavIng. thIs one’s for you, lady g ray. rest In peace.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.