This week’s Indie Corner focuses on a really important Kickstarter project from the talented artist, Skye Ali. Her collection of comics, For When You Can’t Sleep At Night, is not only Ali’s way of working through her own depression but as a way to help other people who may be suffering from the same things. Simply knowing that another person had felt or was feeling the same things you are is enough to make everything a little more manageable. Sky Ali’s webcomics have been helping people heal since 2013 when she first created her Tumblr page. Ali described her project like this:
“For When You Can’t Sleep At Night” began as a webcomic on Tumblr, where I started posting short comics in late 2013 / early 2014. They were initially like diary entries. My life was a bit of a mess at the time and I was trying to process a lot on my own. Drawing and journaling were both long-formed hobbies of mine, so it felt natural to try to process my thoughts and emotions through those outlets. Once I started putting the comics online, my inbox slowly filled with messages from strangers telling me their own personal stories, or simply saying that my comics made them feel less alone. It was really powerful for me, and kind of changed my perspective on how to talk about things that are difficult – specifically relationships, depression, and grief.
The idea of putting her comics together into a book is one that Skye had battled with for some time. However, after a school project required them to make a Kickstarter project, she decided to go for it. And it didn’t take long for her bravery to pay off. Her initial goal of $750 was quickly surpassed by the end of day one. When the Kickstarter came to a close, For When You Can’t Sleep At Night had picked up 405 backers that pledged over $10,000 and the interest just keeps growing. When asked about the crazy success of her Kickstarter, Ali wrote, “I’ve been feeling a combination of things. It’s exciting to know that there are many people who are generous enough to support this book, and that my work seems to communicate to an audience. But it’s heartbreaking as well, since the content they are relating to is often very painful, and I wish fewer people had to struggle with the issues I talk about.” This has been a three-year process from when she actually began to create her comics, but she has been working on For When You Can’t Sleep At Night since February.
A project like this definitely is not easy. Skye spoke numerous times about how hard and odd it was to see the people in her own life, family members, friends, bosses, that were struggling with some of the same things she was. Not only that, but her own depression and insecurities were constantly working against her. But as hard as it was to put herself out there, the response to the work she has done has been overwhelmingly positive in her Tumblr community. Skye’s comics teach a very important lesson: depression and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of.
But the rewarding part of this project is definitely the overwhelming support that I’ve been receiving. My audience on Tumblr has been kinder than ever, and friends and acquaintances have messaged me, thanking me for my comics, and sharing their struggles with depression, too. I feel like I’ve created a kind of community, and I hope that I can continue to help people become more open about their struggles.
As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I connected immediately with the comics featured in For When You Can’t Sleep At Night. It is amazing how a series of images can connect people who have never even met before. Her images are hauntingly beautiful and relatable while still remaining open to interpretation. Anyone who has dealt with the effects of depression or cared about anyone who has suffered from the same should really check out her comics; they make everything relatable and observational to those who might not truly understand what depression is like.
Finally, the talented Skye Ali wanted to leave our readers and those who get For When You Can’t Sleep At Night with these final words:
If anyone reads my comics and feels like they may be showing symptoms of depression, I strongly encourage them to seek help. It’s not easy, I know. But small steps are important – even confiding in a friend or family member whom you trust. Therapy and medication are both big, terrifying words in my experience, and not all kinds will be helpful, but I think they’re worth a shot….I know I’m putting my heart on my sleeve by putting this kind of work out there…It takes a lot of emotional energy to write these comics, but in a way it also releases some of my own stress and hurt. I truly hope that it does the same for my readers.