My apologies for the unexpected hiatus! I moved last week and it was a whirlwind of packing, hauling, and unpacking, followed by a really intense work schedule and then some much needed rest. And now we return to your regularly scheduled programming….
This week’s selection is an all-too-brief and absolutely stunning complete comic called The Locked Maze. While it is short, it is so well-written and well-drawn with such a satisfying ending that you just may reread it several times. The Locked Maze tells a story about Holly, a young ex-Mormon programmer in Salt Lake City who is haunted by a trauma from her past. In addition to being cut off from her family since leaving her church, a terrible, spectral laughing being haunts her dreams ever since her home burned down. This has led to near constant insomnia exacerbated by her dull job and judgmental, oblivious coworkers. The situation comes to a head when a not-so-random act of kindness throws Holly in the way of the fairies who have been living ironically in Salt Lake City, and the terrifying spectral creature which is hunting them and burning them alive.
Book 1 of the The Locked Maze is illustrated in Black and White, with pages alternating between rich pencil and smooth gray scale. In Book II color begins to be used, to excellent and frequently terrifying effect. The storytelling is nuanced and careful, with key details there for the reader to infer from the art alone. This is a story that shows, not tells. The emotional impact of the story’s darker moments is drawn from the author’s own personal experiences. I cannot recommend this dark, beautiful, and finally uplifting read enough.
The Author and her Other Works
Emily Ivie, who often goes by the handle mleiv, is a web designer in addition to being an artist. She had one other web comic project called Rotsterarsi-l which sadly ended after one chapter. Ivie cited the low return on investment for her time as the reason she could no longer afford to continue. She was also the artist for Dark Horse’s three issue Emily and the Stranger.