Sheila MacLean, 18, recently won the Safe Partying Comic Contest put on by Les EssentiElles and the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.

MacLean did not even hear about the contest until three days before the comics were due, when her boyfriend, Dean Williams, pointed out the advertising poster in Starbucks.

This direct deadline did not intimidate MacLean, but rather motivated her. Three years attending the MAD program taught MacLean that the worst thing to do when working on art projects is to stress about the time limit.

“Working on posters and billboards in MAD was probably the most fun I ever had,” MacLean laughs.

And there was always a deadline for those.

This particular comic contest was an awareness-raising activity on the dangers of alcohol, partying and sexual assault.

“It is really hard to do something like this without poking people in the face, saying: don’t do this, don’t do this,” MacLean says, poking her index finger through the air for effect.

So, MacLean took a less “preachy” tone. Her comic is called, The List, and it is about a girl who wishes there was a list of all the things in life that she should not do; this way she would not have to live out other peoples mistakes.

However, at the end of the comic there is a twist and it is revealed to the reader that the girl is actually pregnant: a mistake that is already too permanent for any list to erase.

MacLean loves to portray emotions and stories in visual form, even when MacLean talks she uses her hands to emphasize and texture her words.

“Words and pictures serve their own purposes … that’s why I like comics, they serve the best of both worlds,” MacLean grins.

She hopes to make another comic very soon. She has done commissioned works like logos and drawings in the past, but she is eager for someone to ask her for a comic.

MacLean finds it hard to motivate herself to finish a project unless it is for someone else and has a deadline. She doodles constantly, but finishing a picture, painting or comic takes a little nudge from the outside world.

“They ask, I’m motivated.”

MacLean gets some of her ideas and inspiration from her hobby as a bookworm. She reads mostly comedy like Douglas Adams.

As MacLean talks about her favourite novels and comics, she touches the necklace around her neck absentmindedly. It is a small gold cross dangling from a shimmering gold chain. When I ask her about it, she laughs,

“This? This is boy kryptonite. Ever have guy trouble? They see a cross, they leave you alone,” MacLean jokes.

With a sense of humour, a casual yet observant outlook on life and definite artistic talent, MacLean is ready to attend art school in the fall.

MacLean took this year off to work and save money, but she has applied and been accepted to Art Institute of Vancouver where she will pursue a degree in graphic design.

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PHOTO: HEIDI LOOS