Teen Spirit

Olivia Li


Thesis Mentor: Steenz
Collaborator: Hailey Thurrott; Colorist
Media/Format: Full-length graphic novel pitch package

It’s tough to be a teenager, especially when you’re struggling to find your place in the world. Lily, who’s been able to see ghosts her whole life, doesn’t have any plans for the future. Hana, who comes from a long line of spirit hunters, just wants to make her family proud. Gabe, cut down in his prime and still bumming around as a ghost, doesn’t know what he’s doing here at all. Together, the three new friends wake a centuries-old spirit monster, accidentally splintering it into fragments that wreak supernatural havoc across their sleepy New England suburb; now it’s up to them to clean up the mess. As they muddle along, figuring out how to work together, they also learn about the good they can do with their abilities, and how other people can change your view of the world and how you want to live in it.

Olivia Li

Olivia Li is a cartoonist and multidisciplinary artist living in Queens, NY. She is particularly interested in telling coming-of-age and self-discovery stories of queer, non-white protagonists, usually with a pinch of magic. In addition to her own comics and artwork, Olivia works to benefit art communities at large: She served as a core administrative member of the Boston Comics Roundtable for two years; has edited and published two comics anthologies; and co-founded the Robot Camp comics collective. Her mental health is largely maintained by the sight of other people’s pets over video calls.

INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/heyolovia/
TWITTER: twitter.com/Olovia
WEBSITE: heyolovia.com


Tell Me A Ghost Story

is a project collecting ghost stories, and takes the form of:

1)   A website hosting the collected stories

2)   Social media hashtags (#tellmeaghoststory and #drawmeaghost)

3)   Events like comics and storytelling workshops

I love a good old-fashioned ghost story. Remember spooky kids’ books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? I think those collections were the blueprint for how I think about ghost stories. They usually weren’t moralistic, they didn’t necessarily have themes; they were just something short and scary that would darken the corners of your imagination.

Though Teen Spirit is a cute teen ghost adventure, my interest in the ways we think about death and the dead and the afterlife range much farther. I’m not spiritual and I don’t (consciously) believe in ghosts, but I’m fascinated by what you can learn about people from their anxieties and fears around death. One of the major inspirations for Teen Spirit was a tumultuous time in my life and the way I grounded myself by regularly hanging out in local graveyards at night, because it helped me put my temporary emotional turmoil in a mortal perspective. (Yes I do have a favorite cemetery, yes I have been quoted in a Gothamist article about an event at that cemetery which revolved around discussing the ways we think about and try not to think about death, yes they do even mention the comic I was working on at the time that would eventually evolve into Teen Spirit.) Collecting ghost stories feels like a way to connect with other people and understand a little more about them.

Phase 1(Summer 2021): Concept development, website soft launch

Phase 2(Fall 2021): Full launch (September), a big story-collecting push, #Ghostober hashtag circulation and zine creation

Phase 3(Beyond): Workshop and event development, connect with educators and relevant locations (cemeteries with art programs, haunted tours, etc)

#tellmeaghoststory #drawmeaghost #TMAGS


The website for Tell Me a Ghost Story, tellmeaghoststory.rip, is the central hub of the project. It features stories and artwork that people have sent in, information about the project, and a submission form that welcomes people to tell me a ghost story! Soft launch of the website is August 6th, with a full launch in the beginning of September.


This fall, I’m going to be promoting a hashtag drawing game like Inktober and other similar trends. It’s #Ghostober, and it comes with a list of prompts that I hope evoke different contexts, moods, tones, and stories that will spark participants’ imaginations. The list could also work well as daily flash fiction prompts.

I will be drawing my own #Ghostober collection during the month of October, and will publish it afterwards as a physical and digital zine.

Mail and Workshops

One way that I’ve engaged with communities on projects in the past was through comics workshops, often for kids and teenagers. (Example: I drew a comic written by a historian about the Irish potato famine, and then he and I went to several Boston-area historical societies, where he would give a talk about the famine and Irish immigration and then I would lead the attendees in making minicomics about what they’d learned.) I love teaching these kinds of workshops: kids tend to let their imaginations run wild when given simple prompts, and it’s inspiring to see the unrestricted creativity! I’m also a big believer in the value of comics in education, and in contributing to comics literacy. In the future of this project, I’d like to run workshops with “ghost stories” as a prompt.