Jacey Chase is an artist, YouTuber, and activist whose short comic “Far Away” appeared in Oneshi Press Anthology #08. They also collaborated with Kael McDonald on “Junction,” a short comic to be featured in the upcoming Oneshi Press Anthology #09 in early 2020. We chatted with Jacey about inspiration, dissociation, drawing as a grounding pracice, and—of course—Final Fantasy 6.
Your first comic, “Far Away,” was featured in the 8th Oneshi Press anthology. But you’ve been a creator for a long time. Can you tell us about your work leading up to “Far Away,” Jacey?
I’ve always been an artist, since I was a child. I think a lot of people who make art can relate to the idea that it’s more of a calling than something you decide for yourself. But I took nearly a decade off of making art, in large part due to my confidence and self worth being completely shaken. I had to do a lot of healing and soul searching before I could try to make art again. And so the last few years have honestly been more about building up my self confidence and easing back into drawing more than anything else. I’ve been experimenting, learning and shifting my focus a lot up until now.
I’ve always been drawn to comics, animation, video games—any kind of storytelling that involved art. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of doing but didn’t now to do start. Meeting Jayel and other comic artists in the Twitch and Oneshi Press community and seeing their process gave me the motivation and courage to actual start.
What was your inspiration for “Far Away,” specifically?
“Far Away” was what happened when I decided to make a comic about how I was feeling, as I was feeling it.
It was during a really difficult time in my life—I had just come out as trans and I found my whole world slipping away from me. The support system I had come to rely on suddenly was unraveling and I felt like I was falling with a broken safety net.
On top of that, coming out gave me a ton of context to understand my gender dysphoria—a feeling I had my whole life that suddenly felt suffocating. Understanding it was crucial to figuring out how to move forward to be comfortable with myself, but facing it head on is hard.
And my lifelong coping mechanism of dissociation seemed to be failing me. It was never really “working” for me, but it wasn’t something I was ready to face before. But now I felt myself clawing to stay in control and grounded. I didn’t want to give up on everything I had been working towards and I wanted to make comics but I wasn’t in a place to work on outlines or scripts. My mind wouldn’t let me focus long enough to be that organized. So instead, I just started drawing.
Can you tell us about your process for creating the art for “Far Away”? What got you into the right headspace? And what media did you use?
I just picked up a sketchbook and started drawing a comic. I didn’t have a plan, I was just drawing how I felt and seeing what came out. Drawing has always helped me stay grounded. Which, if you know anything about dissociation, grounding is a technique that helps you feel connected to your body and your physical surroundings. Lots of people find sensory exercises helpful, like touching the arm of your chair or petting your cat and really paying attention to how those things feel. For me, drawing with an actual pencil and paper (rather than a digital drawing tablet) helps a lot. I can pay attention to things like the texture of the paper and the sounds it makes when the pencil rubs across it.
Of course, writing and drawing an eight-page comic without any kind of plan isn’t something that just happens. I only got about two pages deep before I wasn’t sure what to draw next. So I sort of put it in the back of my mind and worked on it when new ideas came to me, usually during other dissociative episodes. As obvious as the ending seems to be now, it took me months to get to that point. The whole process was really medatative and healing. And it taught me a lot about how to ground myself better.
What inspires you most as a creator?
Oh gosh, so many things inspire me it’s really hard to say there’s one thing that inspires me the most. My creative friends inspire me a lot. Seeing how driven they are to reach their goals and to make art. I feel like they’re unstoppable and I want to be like that.
I’m also inspired a lot by things I’ve learned about myself and the world. I think every single person has an interesting story to tell and I want to tell mine through art.
Who are some writers, artists, or others creators who get you riled up (in good or bad ways) to create?
I’m very fortunate to be in a place in my life where I’m surrounded by creative people. Well, figuratively surrounded, since we all live all over the planet. But being a part of online art communities helps me be in very close contact with creative people while they’re in that creative process, rather than just seeing it all at the end. I don’t think anything gets me more excited to make art than seeing my friends publish comics or finish paintings they’ve been working on for a long time.
Part of it is competitive—like, “Oh, I don’t want to be left behind! I better catch up!” and part of it a drive to build off of their ideas and collaborate. I just see everyone else making amazing art and I want to be a part of it.
So to get specific: Jayel and Lynsey [co-founders of Oneshi Press] inspire me. Kael McDonald, stevieraedrawn, Megan Phonesavanh, Eldkrind, Missy (aka miss_ingno), RyuutsuArt, Basemanjk, Sonne, Pren—there are so many artists and writers who whenever I see their work or talk to them, I just want to create something!
What fictional character do you most identify with?
Oh wow, right now I’m don’t really know. As a kid I really connected with Locke and Celes from Final Fantasy 6. They both have a hard time seeing themselves as good, but want to do the right thing, even if people doubt them. I think a lot of people can probably relate to that feeling.
What do you think comics bring to the world that other media can’t? Did this have anything to do with your decision to create “Far Away”?
I think comics are the most attainable way for me to get an idea out of my head. I get stuck on a feeling sometimes and the whole thing plays out in my mind like a movie or an animation. But I don’t have time or resources to animate or make films. I think comics lets me get it all out of my head and do it all myself. I supposed I could write it down using only prose, but I’m so visual that I need to draw it.
Far Away was honestly me just drawing how I feel. I’ve had some of that imagery on loop in my head for years and I finally just let it out. Originally I wanted to make it animated, but at some point I realized I comics scratch that itch with arguably less drawing involved.
Are you currently working on any other projects—comics, art, or other things?
Yes! Right now I’m working with Kael McDonald on a short eight-page story called “Junction.” It takes place in the Vigilante 2890 universe, which is Kael’s baby. It’s a story about revenge and making difficult choices. I’m really excited about it because I’m a huge Vigilante fan but also because I think me and Kael are telling an important story. It’s going to be published in the next Oneshi anthology and I can’t wait!
Where can our readers find you online?
The best place to find me is probably YouTube. I spend a lot of my energy make videos about art, mental health, and LGBTQ+ issues. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Twitch and hanging out in the DreamChaser and Team Oneshi discord servers.
Read “Far Away” in Oneshi Press Anthology #08 and get ready for “Junction” in Oneshi Press Anthology #09!
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