Being An Engine: The Comics of Jule Scheele

There are two pieces in Sleepless: Diary Comics Jan-Sep 2019 by Jules Scheele I can’t stop thinking about.The first is a multi-page story exploring the necessary horrors of untangling the past — a ball of angry scribble slowly, painfully teased into a straight line. There are still knots but now Jules, and you, can see them.

This sort of fierce honesty is what drives Sleepless. Comics exploring Jules coming to terms with therapy, with coming out as non binary and trans masculine and with PTSD are interspersed with moments of serenity and peace. This is an unflinching exploration of a life being lived and for some people it’s going to be hard reading. Don’t let that stop you, it’s vital engagement.

The process of healing, of discovering yourself, is as inconceivably hard as it is worthy. Jules doesn’t just explore their own journey here but provides the makings of a map for others to follow. It’s not easy, it’s never linear, but it’s what needs to be done.

Jules’ work is this perfect combination of space and strength, intensity and openness. It captures that sensation of waiting to be better like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

The lows here are subterranean, the highs incandescent in their honest joy. There’s a depiction of a panic attack and it’s aftermath that’s the most accurate take I’ve ever seen. Jules has an extraordinary ability to capture moments with total honesty and in doing so, show us both its strength and its edges.

Sleepless, ultimately, is a journey and you can see its progress in the second page I love. Jules standing happy and strong, talking about being an engine, powering themsleves and the people they love. Strength and calm, honesty and focus all on a single page.

Jules also sent me Mixtape Zine: Songs to Cry To On The Nightbus. Printed in wonderful risograph colours this is an illustrated mixtape that sees their style shift gear completely. The images here hum with color and energy, each one complimenting the lyrics. I especially like both the Fever Ray excerpt pictured above and the battle cry / regal portrait of the ‘We Become’ quote by Austra:  It could be islands! It could be better!

Here, it is. Jules’ voice and style and brain shine through on every one of these pages. Often funny, often sad and always honest these two zines represent some truly magnificent work. Now more than ever, the industry needs this sort of work, and creators like Jules. Seek it out.

This piece originally appeared as part of my weekly newsletter, The Full Lid . If you liked it, and want a weekly down of pop culture enthusiasm, occasional ketchup recipes and me enjoying things, then check out the archive and sign up here.

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