cover image I Feel Awful, Thanks

I Feel Awful, Thanks

Lara Pickle. Oni, $17.99 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-63715-300-0

Pickle’s whimsical debut employs a fantasy setting to gently untangle issues of mental health and self-care. In a world of witchcraft, Joana, a bright-eyed, blue-haired young Spanish witch, lands her dream job developing potions in London, “the most magical and romantic city in the world.” Beneath her cheery exterior, however, Joana suffers from anxiety and is worn down by the stress of finding and keeping an apartment, navigating office politics, dealing with her condescending boss (“You’re being far too emotional, Miss Joana”), and adapting to life on her own. “If everything is my fault,” she asks, “why do I feel this fire of rage burning inside me?” A therapeutic “dragon tamer” helps Joana corral her monstrous feelings while sharing psychological insights (emotions “are part of us.... We have a relationship with each... but like any relationship, here have to be boundaries, respect, and balance”) that will resonate with readers, particularly younger adults. Pickle’s soft, friendly artwork fits the story’s cozy vibe, with appealing characters exploring detailed London streets and colorful interiors. The panels break into jagged shards whenever Joana has an anxiety attack, and swirls of color represent her whirling turmoil. The self-help advice may not be revelatory, but the charming art and worldbuilding bolster the reassuring message that “it’s okay to not be okay.” Readers will be won over. (Mar.)