Issue 1: Join the Club: Sad Ghosts and Happy Minds
Taken from Issue 1 of 404 Ink | In the fog of ill mental health, those little things that make you feel that little bit lighter become vital, even if it’s just a little cartoon ghost with a few encouraging words.
The Sad Ghost Club is the creative project from Lize Meddings and Laura Cox, raising mental health awareness through comics, apparel and more. Through comics about simple thoughts and feelings, and workshops relating to creativity and the positive effect it can have on mental health, the Sad Ghost Club is a collective of increasing importance and popularity.
Five zines in, the Sad Ghost Club is simple but says a lot. “We like making comics because the mixture of artwork and text really help solidify the messages we’re trying to send,” says Lize. “Sometimes the words are vague, or simple, but with the artwork it’s clear what we’re trying to explain. It also helps spread the message – it’s easier to share a comic that’s perhaps a bit bleak but has a cute ghost in, than just the message itself. Especially for those using our comics to explain to friends and loved one how they’re feeling.”
“I’m an illustrator and have always enjoyed putting how I feel into what I’m making,” she continues. “The narrative and story-telling has always been a big part of my work. I liked that I could tell a more in-depth story with a comic, and go into more detail with what I was trying to explain, and still have it be only one image/page. It also worked really well with social media, which I think helped me realise I should definitely make more!”
Their sad ghosts have spoken volumes for people, expressing seemingly inexpressible feelings, or offering some well-needed encouragement. “I think people like knowing that others
feel the same as them,” says Lize. “We get a lot of really positive messages on our social media and it’s just really heart warming. It can be a bit surreal sometimes, and some of the messages have been so nice and kind they’ve made us well up. People love the little ghost, which is just amazing.”
Beyond their own creations, they work with organisations and charities to expand their support. “We’re currently running a weekly workshop with Bristol-based charity Off The Record who provide free support to young people aged 11-25,” she explains. “The workshop is called Sketchbook Club and it’s a weekly meet up where we just sketchbook, and the response has been great! We’ve done a lot of other stuff with OTR and they’ve really helped us make sure our message comes across the way we intend it. We even got to paint a ghost in one of their counselling rooms (personal high point!).
“Sketchbook Club is what it sounds like: sketchbooking. We give a weekly theme and a whole heap of different materials and there’s no pressure. It’s a really supportive environment which is so nice. Everyone has differing skill levels in terms of art but the work everyone makes is always so creative and wonderful!
“We also just finished a monthly workshop series Mind Over Matter which was tailored
around creativity exploring mental health. Every month we’d make something new; positive postcards, felt flags to hang up on walls, or painted plant pots. We’ve got some new ones planned for 2017 but we’re not totally set on what they’ll be yet!”
The future of the Sad Ghost Club? Their little spectre will continue striving for mental health awareness and support. “Our main hope is to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, and make people feel like they can talk about it,” says Lize. “Our comics get shared around a
lot online and we like to think that’s helping start conversations that maybe wouldn’t have taken place before. As our following grows we see a lot more people speaking up about their own journey, which is just magical, and what we always wanted to happen. Sometimes it’s in the comments on images we’ve posted, people providing support and comfort to those going through similar things as them, as well as insight and advice.
“We hope people feel like they’ve got someone in their corner, like if they’re wearing a ‘still sad’ shirt it maybe makes it a bit easier to talk about their own mental health. They know that there’s this community that does understand, and do appreciate how hard it can be to talk about.”
Next, it’s about expanding the workshops, and perhaps finding ways to start branching out into new cities beyond Bristol, or even offering them online. Join the club, and remember, “The Sad Ghost Club will always be here for you.”
From The Sad Ghost Club:
We always want to be as inclusive as possible, so if there’s anything you’re going through that
you feel we haven’t tackled, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can get talking about it. Chances are someone else is waiting for us to discuss it too!