Irish writer speaks about tackling mental health stigma in new LGBTQ+ comic Strings

Following the success of his last comic, Real Boy, David Ferguson returns with his new project, Strings.

The image shows the bottom panels from page 3 of David Ferguson's new comic Strings. The panel on the laft shows a man carrying a stack of books. The panel on the right shows Star Wars characters under a marquee with the words
Image: David Ferguson

GCN contributor David Ferguson tells GCN about his new LGBTQ+ short comic Strings, and how working with graphic artist Donna Black helped to bring his idea to life.

I have taken on the philosophy of trying to work with queer creators on comics where I am telling queer stories. Luckily, we happen to have an excellent bunch to choose from. 

My last story was drawn, lettered and coloured by the brilliant Anna Fitzpatrick, who I am happy to call a friend, and will be working with in the future. The new story, debuting on Friday, August 18, will feature the art of Belfast artist Donna Black. 

This was a case of me really trying to write for the artist. My previous story was written before I had decided who was going to draw it, and I made adjustments after. For this one, I wrote it because I wanted Donna to paint it.

I have followed her work for a number of years and love the atmospheric imagery and energy she is able to create. There are some artists you can say she is similar to, but I think she is unique.

The story itself is about life and mental health, an issue for a number of LGBTQ+ people, myself and Donna included. Donna has been vocal about her mental health issues and trying to remove the stigma behind it. It is something I try to do as well (you may recall the therapy scene in Real Boy).

It has become an element in a lot of my stories, and talking about it can be a kind of coming out too. I think life gets us all down at some point, and that is basically what Strings is about. If you are struggling, reach out to someone. It can be a professional or even a trusted friend.

I think Strings is an upbeat comic – well, it gets there – and I think a lot of people will be able to see themselves in it. There’s also a nod to GCN towards the end, so keep your eyes peeled!

The image shows three panels from the comic Strings. The top panel shows a group of friends walking arm-in-arm. The second panel shows three faceless people standing behind a sign which reads "LGBTQ Club". The bottom left panel shows a man carrying a stack of books. The bottom right shows characters from Star Wars standing under a marquee with the words "Scifi Club". The images are created in a photorealistic style with a dark blurred appearance.

If you have a comic you want to share, the folks at Irish Comics are always looking for new submissions. You can check out their site for details

I’m hoping to see more queer creators on there, and so is the Irish Comics team! You can also check out the organisation’s Patreon, where, by signing up, you can get an extra comic in your inbox and other cool stuff too!

David Ferguson’s new comic Strings will be published in six weekly parts on Irish Comics Dot IE from Friday, August 18. Donna Black’s artwork can be found here, and the artist has also co-founded a group called Active Women NI which includes, amongst other things, partaking in her passion for skateboarding and designing cool custom decks.



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