Hello there! My name is Xan, and I'm the author of the Promptlypaneled series. It's anything from "typical four-panel hashtag-relatable webcomics" to "the everyday struggles of the common girl." It's all not incredibly different from most four-panel webcomics people seem to like, though all in all, it's a lot more feminist-oriented than most. To me, a feminist point of view is essential to what makes these comics "Promptlypaneled." Which I'm well aware is an easy target to generate some pretty hateful comments.
Every comic is based on a real-life experience and/or conversation, some of which online, especially given the lack of social life the pandemic has brought on.
I'm 100 percent guilty of using humor as a coping mechanism. There isn't a single social setting that I haven't tried to improve or destroy with humor: I make jokes in job interviews, with strangers in a bar or store, I've even been the one to crack jokes to my family after a funeral. I joke when I'm happy and I joke even more when I'm uncomfortable.
I live and grew up in Belgium, where I went to art high school and then on to study animation in college. I genuinely can't draw a straight line to save my own life and have taken to keeping that as part of my style.
I've worked in several different animation studios, usually in the animation team of a short film or commercial, or in the design department. In between that, I've spent my time doing less pleasant jobs—such as in a call center—and I'm currently biding my time in an essential store as a cashier.
My main goal in life is still to write and draw my own comics someday, but as a big narrative with original characters, instead of webcomics based on my own experiences. My hope is that work like that with Promptlypaneled helps me find the courage to get on with that!
My comics being so autobiographical is also part of the reason I only started this series last year as opposed to years before. I wanted to use my personal life experiences (however big or small) because that's easiest to be authentic with, but I can't remove the feminist worldview I've grown into. I've long felt that makes me entirely "unrelatable," since feminism has a pretty bad rep nowadays, with radfems and TERFs being the main sort of feminist most people immediately think of. So I get a decent amount of angry messages from an anti-feminist crowd. But that's just part of the experience, I suppose.
What I've found out is that sadly, a lot of my bad experiences as a woman are VERY relatable. And at this point, I haven't even uploaded a comic about men following me home or construction workers telling me to "sit on their pole" yet. Once I do, I'm sure a lot of my followers will be able to relate, and that's honestly very sad. All in all, I hope I can find the humor in it well enough to turn it into a proper comic!
Disclaimer: I am in no way a mental health professional! But I personally do feel that humor is an important step in processing difficult emotions or trauma. To me, it's a way of giving these events a context, a more tangible "place" in your personal timeline or in your mind. I have spent a few months in therapy trying to process an abusive relationship from years ago and I'm convinced a few therapy sessions a year would do everyone a lot of good. And of course, during these sessions, I was also constantly cracking jokes. Seeing the therapist laugh about said jokes made the whole thing a lot less scary.
Trauma does change people, or it makes them grow, however you prefer to look at it. Either way, the person after a traumatic experience is different from the one before. And I believe just about no one makes it through life entirely free of trauma. For some, it happens in childhood, in a significant romantic relationship, a chance encounter... However it happens, however long it's happened for and whatever it was: it forced you to grow and be different, even if it didn't change you a whole lot. And let me be clear, no one HAS to find the humor in it or even attempt to make jokes about it if they don't want to or if they aren't ready to do so!
But if you can and if you are willing, I feel like it can make your life all the lighter. You're free to process your problems in your own way and joking about your experiences doesn't have to take away from how intense or serious they are.
Side note, I haven't made a single post about that abusive relationship, and there's a good reason—I can't see it fitting in a four-panel setting and I'm just not entirely ready to display it for everyone to see. It's also, to put it in professional terms, a major bummer.
All in all, I'm sure I've rambled on enough! I'm very thankful that the people from Bored Panda found my comics interesting enough to publish, and if anyone reading this article likes them enough to follow the series on Instagram, I'm eternally grateful! I hope you're doing well and wish you all the very best.