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What are the measures of success? Ellie Gerken gives us a bit of their insight…

By Comics, Featured, Featured Comics


“SUCCESS” a comic by: Ellie Gerken is an eight panel autobiographical comic done in ink with a light blue/grey digital spot color.

A caption reading “People seem to have a lot of faith in me lately and in my ability to make interesting worthwhile things” spans the top of two panels. The first panel depicts Ellie sitting in front of their computer on a zoom call with a person labeled comics teacher #1 who is enthusiastically saying “You should really consider a crowdfunding campaign for this comic!” Ellie looks a little surprised by this. The second panel shows Ellie standing behind a desk, an arrow labeled “Presenting my comic” is pointing at them. A woman labeled comics teacher #2 is sitting in front of them saying, “There’s no doubt you’ll get published. You should consider getting an agent.”

There is a wide panel covering the width of the page. The caption reads “This faith in my ‘success’ felt suffocating for a while. It was too much pressure and I felt myself wanting to put
my work down, lower expectations before I could disappoint anyone.” The panel contains Ellie’s head, tilted to the side in an awkward and shy expression on a black background. They say, “Oh
it’s not that special and there’s like… so many people getting into cartooning right now, I doubt I will stick out enough to get anywhere, my work is pretty basic and cliche…” their speech trails

The third row of panels begins with a wide establishing shot of a large room filled with people sitting on the floor staring at a screen projecting the Zine Not Dead logo (a poorly drawn snake
head.) to the left, two people fiddle with a computer on a pedestal, one is wearing a cape, these people are labeled with an arrow saying “Technical difficulties.” The crowd is drawn mostly as
simple circular heads and labeled with three arrows saying “So so so many comics people.” To the right, two figures stick out in the crowd for being more rendered and they are labeled “Me
and Isabel” The top caption of this panel reads “But my roommate and I went to Zine Not Dead #19” the lower caption continues, “And as the first reader set up…” The next panel in the row is a close up shot of Isabel looking over their left shoulder with a soft smile. The top caption reads, “They looked at me and said:” the dialogue reads, “That’s gonna be you one day.”

The fourth and final row of panels begins with two short panels stacked on top of each other, both a close up of Ellie looking over their right shoulder at Isabel. In the first panel their face is
skeptical and the caption reads “and for the first time…” The second panel shows Ellie beaming in a wide closed mouth smile and the caption continues “…I really believed it.”

The final panel shows Ellie approaching Isabel and Ollie (their roommates) with a book in hand. The top caption reads “I thought ‘success’ was some grand single thing, easily defined and
achieved alone.” Ellie says “I made a comic about y’all.” Isabel and Ollie have their hands reached out and excitedly say “OMG NO WAY!!! Let us see.” their hands are labeled “Grabby hands” with an arrow. The bottom caption reads “But success is building community. It’s finding and loving your people. And I can do that, I’ve already started.”

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