Karla Keffer

is creating a comic series

0

patrons

$0

per month
Welcome, y’all!

For the past twenty years, my writing has been a continual effort to “speak the unspeakable,” to unearth, and translate into art, the grim realities we often do our best not to acknowledge – namely abuse, mental illness, and the intersection of the two. When I began writing in earnest about my own experience as the product of an abusive home environment, the trauma narrative was in its infancy. Many of us attempting to stay faithful to the core of our experiences were pushed to spin our stories as a “learning experience,” or to translate them into a narrative that emphasized beating insurmountable odds. We were often expected to paint ourselves as unequivocally forgiving, and somehow rendered morally superior and hypercompetent as a result of our survival, which dovetailed with the frequently uncomfortable truth – that undiagnosed depression and PTSD sometimes made it impossible for us to get out of bed, and forgiveness seemed about as likely as sprouting a pair of wings and flying.

I’m thankful that the trauma narrative has changed immensely in the past twenty years, and that there is much less of an insistence that we survivors paint ourselves with a gilded brush. The changing landscape of literature, psychology, and how we understand both has made it possible for me to realize my current ongoing project, a graphic narrative called Charm City. Told in a series of episodic zines (independent, self published magazines, or comics), Charm City follows fourteen-year-old Claudia Schatz, an abuse survivor struggling to make sense of, and heal from, her experience at a time and in a place that would have her sweep her experience under the proverbial rug. Her inability, and eventually deliberate refusal, to do so are at the crux of the story, and while her healing process is far from seamless, or complete, she is eventually able to find a measure of peace through supportive friends and family members and an immersion in the riot grrrl culture of the 1990s.

I chose to tell Charm City as a graphic narrative because the visual image, especially when combined with a textual narrative, affords the reader not only a multidimensional sense of time, place, and circumstance but allows for much greater artist freedom in the telling. Combining word and image affords me the opportunity to push the boundaries of conventional narrative structure by telling several versions of the same story at once – visual narrative, textual narrative, and the “marginal” narrative that exists, literally, in the margins of Claudia’s notebook, revealing a subconscious at which I’ve only been able to hint in strictly text-based narratives. It’s through this combination that I strive to reveal the complexity of living with PTSD in all its humanity, free from preconceived expectations or cliches, and to create a story that’s at once particular and ultimately accessible, eliminating the divide between that which is speakable and that which is not.

Tiers
Friends
$1 or more per month
YOU ARE ALL MY FRIENDS, NO MATTER WHAT. If you can contribute only $1, that’s totally cool. You will receive access to my patron-only feed, as well as my undying thanks.
Friends who happen to have a bit more money
$5 or more per month
If you can contribute $5, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, and access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometow.
Friends who have even a bit more money
$10 or more per month
If you can contribute $10, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, AND a monthly digital download of my art.
Friends who are raking in some dough
$20 or more per month
If you can contribute $20, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, AND access to drafts of my memoir as I write them.
Friends who are raking in even more dough
$30 or more per month
If you can contribute $30, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, access to drafts of my memoir as I write them, AND an #infodumper T-shirt in whatever size you choose.
Friends who have some serious $$$$
$50 or more per month
Ifyou can contribute $50, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, access to drafts of my memoir as I write them, an #infodumper T-shirt in whatever size you choose, an #infodumper tote bag, AND a handwritten thank-you note.
Welcome, y’all!

For the past twenty years, my writing has been a continual effort to “speak the unspeakable,” to unearth, and translate into art, the grim realities we often do our best not to acknowledge – namely abuse, mental illness, and the intersection of the two. When I began writing in earnest about my own experience as the product of an abusive home environment, the trauma narrative was in its infancy. Many of us attempting to stay faithful to the core of our experiences were pushed to spin our stories as a “learning experience,” or to translate them into a narrative that emphasized beating insurmountable odds. We were often expected to paint ourselves as unequivocally forgiving, and somehow rendered morally superior and hypercompetent as a result of our survival, which dovetailed with the frequently uncomfortable truth – that undiagnosed depression and PTSD sometimes made it impossible for us to get out of bed, and forgiveness seemed about as likely as sprouting a pair of wings and flying.

I’m thankful that the trauma narrative has changed immensely in the past twenty years, and that there is much less of an insistence that we survivors paint ourselves with a gilded brush. The changing landscape of literature, psychology, and how we understand both has made it possible for me to realize my current ongoing project, a graphic narrative called Charm City. Told in a series of episodic zines (independent, self published magazines, or comics), Charm City follows fourteen-year-old Claudia Schatz, an abuse survivor struggling to make sense of, and heal from, her experience at a time and in a place that would have her sweep her experience under the proverbial rug. Her inability, and eventually deliberate refusal, to do so are at the crux of the story, and while her healing process is far from seamless, or complete, she is eventually able to find a measure of peace through supportive friends and family members and an immersion in the riot grrrl culture of the 1990s.

I chose to tell Charm City as a graphic narrative because the visual image, especially when combined with a textual narrative, affords the reader not only a multidimensional sense of time, place, and circumstance but allows for much greater artist freedom in the telling. Combining word and image affords me the opportunity to push the boundaries of conventional narrative structure by telling several versions of the same story at once – visual narrative, textual narrative, and the “marginal” narrative that exists, literally, in the margins of Claudia’s notebook, revealing a subconscious at which I’ve only been able to hint in strictly text-based narratives. It’s through this combination that I strive to reveal the complexity of living with PTSD in all its humanity, free from preconceived expectations or cliches, and to create a story that’s at once particular and ultimately accessible, eliminating the divide between that which is speakable and that which is not.

Recent posts by Karla Keffer

Tiers
Friends
$1 or more per month
YOU ARE ALL MY FRIENDS, NO MATTER WHAT. If you can contribute only $1, that’s totally cool. You will receive access to my patron-only feed, as well as my undying thanks.
Friends who happen to have a bit more money
$5 or more per month
If you can contribute $5, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, and access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometow.
Friends who have even a bit more money
$10 or more per month
If you can contribute $10, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, AND a monthly digital download of my art.
Friends who are raking in some dough
$20 or more per month
If you can contribute $20, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, AND access to drafts of my memoir as I write them.
Friends who are raking in even more dough
$30 or more per month
If you can contribute $30, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, access to drafts of my memoir as I write them, AND an #infodumper T-shirt in whatever size you choose.
Friends who have some serious $$$$
$50 or more per month
Ifyou can contribute $50, you will receive access to my patron-only feed, my undying thanks, access to photos of my cat, my creative process, and various and sundry oddities in and around my hometown, a monthly digital download of my art, access to drafts of my memoir as I write them, an #infodumper T-shirt in whatever size you choose, an #infodumper tote bag, AND a handwritten thank-you note.