A Faint Wail Across the Sea by Pauline Johnson



Pauline Johnson was raised in Maskwacis territory bordered within Alberta. Growing up, Nehiyaw (Plains Cree), her art has always turned to visual and emotional artworks. Using comic and graphic storytelling to help create her art. Using the balance of visuals, culture and history she creates art related to LGBTQ+ and Indigenous matters.


Figuring out how to love and navigate mental illness is often ambiguous. Often there isn’t a black and white answer. The most important thing I’ve learned is to support and care. Having compassion and patience. In my comic, A Faint Wail Across the Sea, I created it in the perspective of a couple trying to navigate the uneasiness of fear and anxiety. How to be a healthy support for their partner. The difficult thing is realizing, if you’re not careful, the stable person can become another casualty. Understanding that you can’t support them if you’re also drowning. That you need to care for you, before you can help.

[image descriptions: a comic with 6 panels each page.

Page 1:

A woman with long black hair and brown skin lies in a lavender coloured bathtub, submerged and holding their breath. The text reads “I gave you my time, for memories I won’t forget.”

An image of a dark red heart is surrounded by text that reads “It is a kind love. I trusted my heart to you. My heart beats when you’re near”

A hand rises out of a swirling mass of darkness, looming over two figures. It looms over the woman from the first panel, with shorter hair this time, who is facing and holding hands with a person who seems to be covered in the same swirling patterns as the hand. The text reads “You trusted me with yours. Something else came with you. These feelings. It encapsulates you in sorrow. Fear, anger. Anxiety.”

The woman watches in distress as her lover is pulled underwater by the hand. The text reads: “Struggling it pulls you deep. To a place I can not go to. Something you tear deeply”