Comics Features Reviews

Self Care Zine Boasts an Empathetic Tone and Interactive Structure

Comics Youth CIC do an awful lot of good work in helping young, disadvantaged people unlock their creativity. The Liverpool-based registered Community Interest Company organises and holds workshops for young people to try and uncover their creative talents. Whether its to help publish their own work, make a personal statement or purely therapeutic, Comics Youth strives to offer young voices a welcoming home. They’ve recently managed to set up their own youth-led publishing system with the Marginal Leadership Programme. They’ve now taken that a step further with their self-published anthology Self Care Zine.

A multimedia tome with a wide-eyed vision of encouraging empathy and interactivity, Self Care Zine brings together numerous indie creators and members of the Comics Youth team themselves. The end result is an eclectic array of comics, articles, poems and drawings that acts like an outstretched hand to anyone in need of guidance in traversing whatever mental health issues they may be experiencing. A gratifying element of Self Care Zine is how it doesn’t attempt to mask or dilute its message. Whether they’re shown or told, the anthology’s accounts of the painful, isolated feelings mental illness can bring are succinct and frank, but also avoids being overly raw.

The artwork featured in the zine is immensely varied, yet what unites the diversity in styles at play here is a strongly direct sense of intimacy towards the reader. The artwork is playful and frank, with colours sometimes in black-and-white, reflecting the immediacy of the zine’s contents. Elsewhere the colours are warm and inviting. The artwork does a splendid job in communicating the optimistic tone of the anthology. There’s very little to Self Care Zine that feels morose. It’s purposefully and confidently doing everything it can to act as a safe haven for the reader, away from feelings of anxiety, depression, or other forms of mental illness.

The zine gains an interactive flair with its offerings of advice, along with numerous sections inviting the reader to to contribute their own work. Whether its setting yourself steady goals for accomplishing routine tasks or tracking your daily moods, Self Care Zine encapsulates Comic Youth’s mission of engaging with people by actively engaging the reader themselves to participate in the zine.

A stronger editorial direction may have helped Self Care Zine to be a punchier affair. At around 100 pages long, it feels somewhat cumbersome towards the end, particularly when some of the anthology’s messages of appreciation and well-being for the reader begin to repeat themselves. However, it’s hardly the worst message to replicate again and again. Perhaps that’s the key component of Self Care Zine; constantly reminding the reader that whatever problems they may be facing, they’re a worthwhile and wonderful human being that deserves all the positivity they can gain. Through handsomely diverse artwork and empathetic stories of self-love from its creators, Self Care Zine is a pleasantly unflinching, homegrown publication.

You can discover more about Self Care Zine from Comics Youth. Money raised from sales of Self Care Zine go back into the services Comics Youth provide for young people. Have you already got yourself a copy? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara