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Wednesday’s Webcomic: The Locked Maze

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Wednesday's Webcomic

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 MazeWhile 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 2 title page

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.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell

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Wednesday's Webcomic

I return from my break a little late this week, but I return with the fascinating, deep, and kind-hearted dramedy Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell. The comic takes place in an other world where tracking your Karma is as important in life as your credit score and your taxes. Unicorns are available as pets, your landlord might be a minotaur, and pothead angels might foist their heavenly duties off on their roommates. Darwin Carmichael is, according to his Karmic balance, one of the worst people on earth. While he tries his best to improve his balance, he has a hard time making up for a single stupid mistake made as teenager. This action haunts his every job hunt, apartment application and his romantic life. He is sometimes arrested by the Karma Police in a preemptive strike against someone so (apparently)  evil, and when he occasionally meets up with someone with psychic sensitivity they usually go into fits from fear and shock at his doom.  Since he is in actuality an average joe, he has some good friends who try to help him get into the black. His best friend and ex-girlfriend Ella tries to keep him on the path of righteousness despite her own  frequently questionable actions. She herself is incredibly karmically wealthy thanks to inheriting the karmic balance of her deceased guru parents, enough so that she could commit several murders and still be considered one of the best people on earth.  His two-millenia-old and somehow still-mentally twelve pet manticore Skittles is always there to cheer him up, or sting him with a scorpion tail if he had been accidentally locked in the closet.

Unicorn

Whatever you say, Darwin!

While Darwin Carmichael’s cheerful tone and brightly colored, friendly animation style give it the appearance of a light hearted romp through international traditions of faith and creatures of myth, it does have a very deep commentary on the dangers of thinking of good and evil as merely black and white, and the hypocrisy of whatever moral authority deems itself fit to judge you. It also lovingly pokes fun at the more mundane intricacies of New York hipster culture with beings like the Leprechaun of Gentrification and the actual Muses who hang with the art scene.  It was recently completed after nearly five years of weekly regular publication. The stories are a mix of funny one-shot gags and longer philosophical stories, and is as a whole a heart-warming and positive saga of friendship, moving on from your past, and being the best person you can be.

About the Creators

Jenn Jordan is the cowriter and draws Skittle’s Crayon interludes. She is a PHD student of History at NYU. Sophie Goldstein is the other writer and the primary artist, who is currently getting her MFA from the center of cartoon studies. She is working on a contribution to the horror anthology Sleep of Reason and more of her art, incuding the recent Adventure Time cover can be viewed at her website.

Diner

In my head that’s the God of Coffee.