'Connie to the Wonnie' Climbs Towards the Next Chapterby Charlie Upchurch
There are many aspects to Connie to the Wonnie that resonate with readers: dating and singlehood, mental health, inspiration in dark times, and, of course, the bustling backdrop of New York City. A personal favorite of mine, though? Her rock climbing comics. The beautiful landscapes, the drama that comes with scaling a massive wall, and the physical reminder of Connie's tenacity make these comics particularly beautiful:
I got a chance to chat with Connie Sun, creator of Connie to the Wonnie, about how climbing became a part of her life that inevitably seeped into her comics.
"It’s such a journey," Connie began. "I’m very grateful for having found not only this outlet but also this community that’s kind of different than the comics community. Both are very important parts of my life.
"It brings a lot of those kinds of very basic emotions and physicality to the forefront in a lot of very immediate ways. I think that there are a lot of different sports that get you there … climbing works for me. I’m not a great climber, I don’t aspire to greatness, but it’s definitely taught me a lot about myself."
Connie's inner dialogue is the thoroughfare of her comics and her story. Rock climbing illustrates many themes running through her life, such as facing up to and confronting fears, even (and especially) after failure.
"When you confront the prospect of your fear of dying, something like that is basic and universal. It might help reorganize your priorities," Connie said. "Confronted with creative stagnation, that aspect of it was like, 'I can’t just hang on to the wall — just stay here and burn energy, burn time, and not actually get anywhere.' One piece of advice if you’re on a climb is that you’re either going up or you’re going down. And either is fine, but it clarifies your decision-making. When your choices are very clear, then it helps with anxiety, because I think decisions are a big trigger for anxiety."
Connie relates some of the skills of learning and struggling through new climbing challenges with adapting to the next steps in her life. She stepped back from her daily journal comic in September of 2018, and now updates a few times a week. Another big change? Stepping away from her career in higher education to focus solely on her creative work.
"That’s the next chapter of whatever project that I work on, that sort of integration. I’m trying out new muscles right now, in line with the muscles you find in climbing. There are definitely pain points where I’m trying to exercise new muscles in cartooning," she said.
"This year was a big leap of faith in that I had to let go of [drawing daily comics], in order to grow in my creative process. I’m trying to work a different muscle right now, which is longer narrative. As a new challenge, I would like to expand my short comics into full-length stories."
We're looking forward to whatever comes up next with Connie Sun, knowing it will bring the same spirit of honesty, generosity and grit that she brings to Connie to the Wonnie. Be sure to follow her GoComics page for fresh comics three times a week, and if you'd like to support Connie's work more directly, check out her Ko-fi page here!