YA//GC: A 100 Pound Backpack

I found this piece floating amongst the headstones. A beautiful piece by Kat La Mantia. They left some words on the back to try to put into the words the way they feel. Through Shade they found pieces of themselves once hidden. Madness can be a powerful thing. I wanted to share them with you because perhaps you have felt the weight of it all too… be seeing you soon friend.
The Grave Robber

Shade, the Changing Girl was the first Young Animal comic I ever picked up, and it’s one of the first comics series that I ever followed as it was releasing. 

I’d never been into comics much because I’ve never been particularly impressed by superheroes. The Young Animal imprint changed all that. Shade was my entrance into the world of comics that was weird, introspective, artistic, and no-holds-barred imaginative. I craved that kind of creative freedom, and in Shade, I found the first comic that really meant something to me. 

The world of Shade is one of color, poetry, and duality. Loma is alien and human, dead and alive, a successor and a visionary. Her body is borrowed yet also hers. Her home is what she chooses and where she comes from.

Some people find themselves reflected in Spiderman, in his fumbling adolescence and his desire to be a hero. I see myself in Shade, in her feelings of displacement, in her reckonings with her body, in her multiple identities, in her madness. The year I found Shade was the year I felt like it was all coming apart. I was failing at my job. I was failing at my art. I was failing at finding some kind of reasonable existence in a post-college world. I was struggling with my gender, my sexuality, and the deepest depression I’d yet experienced. After college, I’d tried to press myself into the mold I thought I was meant to be in, but I didn’t fit, no matter how I tried to contort into that small space. I felt like an outcast, and for that, I felt utterly worthless.

It might seem counterintuitive to say that part of what released me from depression was madness, but that’s what happened. Depression is stagnation, nothingness, a 100 pound backpack you have to lug around. Madness is just the opposite: creativity as a driving force, the freedom to make your own reality. Madness is transformation.
Finding Shade was like finding punk rock. It was permission to break the rules, to be my own person, to grow and contain multitudes rather than living liminally, always on the threshold. Gerard Way, as close to my Rac Shade as I can get, once described creativity as tapping into a universal energy that exists slightly above and behind the crown of your head. I latched onto that like Loma to the madness coat.

Sometimes it’s hard to get there. Sometimes I forget the portals I’ve opened for myself and the corrective strength that creativity has brought into my life. In those moments, I pull Shade off the shelf and remind myself of the power of madness. 

Name: Kat La Mantia
Twitter/TikTok: @ARealKat
IG: @yrfriendboxcar

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