08 March 2008

Things You Might Enjoy, If You Enjoy This Sort Of Thing--Episode Four


It occurred to me this morning that I've done three reviews already and haven't once talked about webcomics. It's sort of a different medium from print comics, but not so far removed that I shouldn't be able to talk about it. I read a lot of webcomics, too, so it's probably a good idea to review one or two.

I only recently started reading Grayling again. I read it a few years ago, but due to the irregular update schedule I eventually fell out of the habit of checking the website. Because it had been a couple of years, of course I had to start from the beginning and read all the way through the archives until I reached the present day.

This isn't just because I wanted a refresher, and it's something I'll warn you about now. Grayling isn't a comic you can just pick up and start reading at the present day. Reading through the archives is required, because the story is deep and complicated and spans a few thousand years. But I can give you a quick explanation, so you'll know what you're getting into.

Briefly, Grayling follows the lives, trials, and tribulations of the elementals of the world of Faidia, including their interactions with certain mortals and their attempts to save the world. It focuses primarily on Moranerial, or Fern, the elemental of fire, Callanerial, the elemental of death, and Morse, a human girl whose life these elementals basically destroy.

Before you ask, yes. It gets a bit depressing.

That is, I must emphasize, only the briefest of summaries. It's not nearly enough to go on if you want to start reading the comic; like I said, you really have to read the archives, and it's worth it. If you start at the beginning, for one, you get to see the art slowly improve and become more and more strange and individual, as well as getting to experience all the glorious character growth in full surround angst. It's bizarre and original, and the characters are for the most part very likable--even Lemanerial, and he's kind of a jackass. Also, the author includes on the site a full cast list, as well as several essays on various aspects of Faidian life, culture, and ecology.

The art is extraordinary. Most of the comic is done in a style that's sort of half-anime, half abstract art. The lettering is mostly done by computer, though, which makes it easier to read, and Arborwin uses gorgeous, intense colors. You really need to read this comic.

However, I will provide one last warning, just to make sure nobody gets really alarmed. Arborwin herself has put this warning at the beginning of the archives. Grayling, for those of you who might be bothered by this, is filled with gay. Lots of gay. A number of the main characters are...well, elementals don't really go by human sexuality, but there are a lot of same-sex relationships. It doesn't bother me, but if that's something that'll bug you, don't read this comic.

Other than that, though, it's totally worth it. It's a beautiful story.

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