For those of us who love queer, indie comics, Kickstarter is often the place to find them and that proves true yet again with Getting Lost! A gentle, 24-page comic about friendship, magic, and respite from regular life, it follows the story of Reed and Isaiah, two genderqueer friends who get lost in the woods — and realize that they don’t mind being lost at all while they’re together.
We were able to catch up with creator Izzi Ward to hear all about what they’re trying to accomplish with Getting Lost!
Rogues Portal (RP): What was the inspiration behind Getting Lost?
Izzi Ward (IW): When I was a kid there was a forest a very short walk from my house and I used to go there a lot as a teenager–sometimes alone, sometimes walking the dog, and sometimes with friends. That feeling of there being something magical just out of sight, in this place where humans can go but don’t control, never really left me as I grew up–manifesting as everything from the glimpse of a deer through the trees or a tree stump that looked exactly like Bulbasaur–and I wanted to make a comic about that kind of magic in the real world. A lot of my work is about magic as a normal, everyday thing, totally natural and central to a character’s life, but I wanted to make something about the kind of almost-magic I grew up with.
RP: It seems like a lot of your comics are centrally themed around nature and/or magic. What draws you to those themes?
IW: I’ve actually never thought of nature as something my work is themed around, but now that I look at it, it totally is! I think growing up in a very middle-of-nowhere part of England meant that I spent a lot of time running around with my sister, making dens in hedges, thoroughly failing to climb trees, and–like I said–exploring those woods near home. When I went away to university on the Cornish coast, I found that the places I felt most calm and comfortable were the sea and the woods; there’s this kind of almost-magical feeling about being in a place that exists with minimal input from humans, and that’s something I really wanted to touch on in this comic in particular.
As to the magic element of my work, I grew up on fairy tales, on science-fiction and fantasy novels, and all my games as a kid were about using magic, or finding out that I was magic, or existing in a world where magic was totally cool but also an utterly normal occurrence. As an adult, I particularly like making stories about queer characters in magical settings–probably to make up for the almost total lack of queer characters in any of the fantasy works I read as a kid.
RP: Can you tell us a little more about Reed and Isaiah? What are they like?
IW: I think it’s pretty common for artists and writers to make characters that reflect something of themselves, or of people they care a lot about. Reed and Isaiah are (to separate degrees) amalgamations of a lot of my queer friends, and myself. I wanted a dynamic reminiscent of how I am with certain friends: those people you just know, and can be completely relaxed around. I wanted to make two characters who have known each other for several years and have been through a few tough things together that brought them closer; but who had also experienced a lot of good things together.
Reed is an excitable, bubbly mess of energy, with not much common sense but a lot of enthusiasm. They’re someone quick to anger, quick to excite, quick to motivate. They work as a bookseller and can tell you everything about sci-fi/fantasy, and they especially love Becky Chambers’ books–genderfluid aliens? Yes please. They’re working on a novel (isn’t every bookseller?) about queer witches.
Isaiah is the calm to Reed’s jitter, that quiet, gentle friend you know is the exact person you want to talk to about a problem–most likely because they already worked out what’s going on, and how you can fix it. A very intuitive, kind-hearted individual, they take things in their stride and are always up to lend a hand–although this absolutely backfires sometimes, getting them stuck with too much on their plate because they were too nice to say no, sorry. They work as an assistant dessert chef in a small restaurant, and love making anything small, fiddly, and complicated.
RP: You’ve said that Getting Lost is about friendship. What is it trying to say about friendship? What is Reed and Isaiah’s friendship dynamic like and is it affected by their gender identities?
IW: I don’t know if there’s anything better than being with people who know you really well, around whom you can relax into being yourself and not worry about saying a wrong thing, or outing yourself, or embarrassing yourself. I wanted Reed and Isaiah to have that dynamic, to know that there’s not a wrong way to be together, to bounce off each other and joke and support one another. It’s not a very long comic, but I hope that dynamic comes across!
For Isaiah, Reed is a super important person in their life, because Reed helped them work out they were genderqueer. It’s a cornerstone of their relationship – not the most important detail, but a thing that definitely bound what would’ve otherwise still been a good friendship into something deeper. Isaiah looked at Reed being their true self, and realised that’s what they wanted, too. Reed looks at Isaiah as a person who totally gets what they’re about: a person who doesn’t see ‘a girl pretending’ or ‘another tomboy’ but understands them. So yes, gender identity is a kind of glue to their friendship. They have other binding factors and a lot more in common than just this, but it’s definitely a big part of why they ended up so close in the first place.
RP: What does it mean to you to do a comic with two genderqueer characters? How has your experience as a genderqueer person informed the creation of these characters and their story?
IW: I mean, it’s informed everything. Although this isn’t a comic about gender (it’s a comic about friendship and magic, mostly), it’s been very freeing to make characters whose gender identity reflects my own. Both of them have securities I wish I had, insecurities I want to work out. Like working on The Ink Witch (my wlw romance comic from 2017), working on this was kind of me making something I wish I could give to a younger version of myself. Is that too mushy?
But, while Getting Lost is a comic about genderqueer people, it’s not a comic about being genderqueer. It’s not meant to educate or illuminate our inner lives or anything. Comics that do that are awesome and so, so important, but that wasn’t what I set out to do here. I’m more drawn to telling stories about queer people that aren’t inherently about their queerness, but are instead about our friendships, relationships, and adventures.
Getting Lost is already fully funded on Kickstarter, but you can continue to support it until August 26th! If you’re interested in more of Izzi’s work, you can check out their ongoing webcomic, Sephie, their Patreon page, their online store or find them on Instagram or Twitter as @izziward!