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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

It all starts here

Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20.

A look at Lights’ concept album “Skin&Earth”.

From her youth traveling alongside her parents who worked as missionaries to winning Juno Awards and performing at Coachella, Canadian singer and now comic book writer Lights is a real life Wonder Woman. Following three studio records came her fourth record, “Skin&Earth,” released on Sept. 22, 2017, in which she wrote and illustrated a six-issue comic series to accompany the album.

Recently, I spoke with Lights about her writing process, how to embrace one’s own weaknesses, and what it means to be a resilient woman working in two predominantly-male industries. Lights’ “We Were Here” tour comes to Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts on Feb. 25.

Now that Skin&Earth, both the album and the comic, are out, what’s it been like to see people writing that your dream come true project has inspired them to pursue their dreams?

It’s amazing. And the same thing has been passed to me from other artists and creators that I admire, so to see that working for other people is kind of amazing. And that’s part of the dream too. I remember I was playing a show and a woman came up to me and said “I’ve wanted to make my own comic now, take a look at my art,” and she showed me her art, and it’s amazing. I was like “This is so much better than mine!” Sometimes people just need a little reminder that you can do it, and in a society that kind of makes you feel like you can’t, I think it’s good to have those reminders that all you gotta do is try, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

What has been one of the hardest moments you’ve had to endure in these two industries, and how do you combat it?

Probably the biggest thing over the two mediums, actually over comics so far and over music is that people generally assume that if you’re a woman, you don’t write the music, you don’t work on the music; if you’re a woman you don’t do it all. But, whereas if you’re a man, they’re more inclined to just automatically assume that you’ve done all the work. And that’s kind of something I’ve had to do some proving over the years, to make people know how much I’ve been involved in everything. And same within comics, I think people would immediately assume that I didn’t do the art and that I didn’t do the writing, and I don’t know if that’s chalked up to being a female or not, but been kind of annoying. I have a little segment with ‘Written, illustrated, and lettered by Lights,” so there’s no denying that when you see that. I think that it’s a reminder to young women, or anyone for that matter, that you can do it all! And it’s in your ability to achieve when you put the work in, and prove everybody wrong.

Do you put a lot of thought into first and last lines of your work, especially with “Skin&Earth”?

You know it’s funny, I hadn’t really thought about that until this project. Until I created the intro track for the record, the first lyric was “It all starts here,” and that was very purposeful because I wanted it to sound like the beginning of a story. I didn’t really think that much of it with the comic; I think it was more finding those potent lines that would cover themselves through the story. I find those moments- potent, poetry style dialogue, are what makes comics for me, that make the story connect with something deeper, so I’m very cognisant of those things. 

In creating the main character of the comic, Enaia Jin, who you mentioned is modeled closely after your own personality, was it difficult to create a character that can be relatable to anyone, regardless of how they identify?

It was easy! In fact, when I started writing the character, she was a lot more dependent and weak, I guess, than how she turned out. The more I wrote this character being so needy, because the whole kind of idea of the story was based around her being this hopeless, end of her rope individual who is desperate for companionship and that the more I wrote that character, the more I realized that I can’t relate to that, I mean, I have my moments of weakness, we all do, but that doesn’t mean you’re a weak person. That doesn’t mean everything you say is weak and everything you do is weak.

And so I realized that I was writing her way too one-dimensionally, and started building in strength into that weakness. Then I started to realize that those do go hand in hand; because you have moments of weakness doesn’t mean you aren’t this amazing, powerful person.

In fact, every powerful person has their moments of weakness and then it became the origin story of a very powerful person and exploring their weaknesses because through the weakness, we find strength. We explore and we’re on this journey, and not all of it is pretty, but it gets us to where we need to go.

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