Books Comics

Exclusive Interview: “I Feel Awful, Thanks” Writer / Artist Lara Pickle


In Lara Pickle’s new graphic novel I Feel Awful, Thanks (paperback, Kindle), we follow a woman on a journey in a fantasy realm.

But as Pickle explains in the following email interview, this journey isn’t a quest to find some treasure or destroy some danger, it’s an emotional journey tied directly to her mental health.

Lara Pickle I Feel Awful Thanks

I’d like to start with the text. What is I Feel Awful, Thanks about, and what kind of a world is it set in?

This story follows Joana’s journey of self reflection love, where she had to learn that emotions are all very important for her to have a more balanced and healthy life.

The world Joana lives in is much like our own, with the difference in her world, magic is normal and common for most people to have. In particular, it is set in a magical version of London.

Where did you get the original idea for I Feel Awful, Thanks, and how, if at all, did that idea evolve as you wrote and drew this book?

The original idea came from a series of mini comics I wrote and drew for myself to understand and process my own emotions after my therapy sessions.

In the beginning, the story was very much based on myself. But as I wrote it and polished it, Joana became a character of her own and actually to this day, she embodies many traits and issues not only me, but also some of my friends have gone through. It was clear to me when I saw these things showing up that Joana should be indeed someone who others, not only myself, could relate to.

Given that I Feel Awful, Thanks is, in large part, about the serious issue of mental health, why then did you decide to set I Feel Awful, Thanks in a fantasy realm as opposed to in the real world?

I decided to set the world like this because I knew it would give me a bigger range of visual elements to play with when it comes to show the emotions, and play around with analogies. I really love analogies because it makes things easier to understand in my opinion, and it can bring a lot more to the table for people to think and reflect on versus if things are just plainly said through. It sort of gives people the room to interpret things in their own way and time.

In my case, I used these things in a very visual way, like the chest growing, the dragons or the emotions being something visible and tangible. It makes for something that is invisible in real life to be more understandable on paper.

Who and what do you see as being the biggest influences on I Feel Awful, Thanks, in terms of both what you wrote about and how you wrote it?

Music inspired me in general for this project as it is a medium that uses lyricism to express complex emotions at times.

One of my biggest influences when it comes to analogies is definitely Taylor Swift. It always inspired me the way she wrote her emotions down, and how beautiful and poetic her lyrics are.

I was also very drawn by BTS’ album Map Of The Soul, which was quite life changing to me.

I did read a lot about psychology at the time, so I had a lot of material to get inspired by, but I especially liked reading Rafael Santandreu, and especially loved his book Being Happy In Alaska.

As for movies, I was deeply touched by Here We Are: Notes for Living On Planet Earth from Studio AKA, and also Pixar’s Soul.

What about the art, which is rather distinctive. Who and what do you see as having the biggest influence on the look of the characters and the general art style? Because it seems — to me, anyway — that the art in I Feel Awful, Thanks has a lot more sharp lines than some of the illustrations I’ve seen of yours on Instagram.

Well, coming from animation, I’ve come to to a place where I can adapt to a wide variety of styles and so I feel like even though you can somehow tell that a drawing is mine, I can still work around different shapes and color dynamics, and so I always sort of try to adapt to the type of story I want to tell.

I really wanted a simple yet cozy thing for this novel, especially because it was meant to be something very approachable to people, but also because being such a long graphic novel and me being on a tight deadline, it needed to be something achievable in the time that I had. I would have loved to make some things a bit more painterly but it would have been very difficult to maintain consistency as well.

I drew a lot of influence from artists that have line-based artwork, like Jordi Lafebre or Amy Thompson, whose work I’ve admired for ages.

I also have a very strong love for architecture, so I tried to add in cool backgrounds and sets wherever I could so that I could have fun drawing and painting them on.

Lara Pickle I Feel Awful Thanks

So, is there anything else people need to know about I Feel Awful, Thanks?

Yes! I find this book quite special and close to my heart as it has been my door in the comic world as an author.

But It’s also special because It talks about something I deeply care about and I always personally try to advocate for, which is mental health. It’s not a perfect book, but I think it will go a long way, and I want to thank anyone and everyone who has or will read it for that. Please enjoy it, and I hope that it somewhat feels like a little soul companion to whom might need one.



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