What Did I Learn?
Today’s subject is Witch Knots by Ira Marcks. It was on the Girlamatic website for awhile, but now resides on its own site. What I am reviewing here is a collection of the comics in pdf form supplied by Ira.
The comics are displayed two to a page. Reading it this way let me get a satisfying chunk of story, with that gutter-pause of clicking to the next comics. It was also a little disconcerting since oftentimes they showed events of one set of characters above another set. I kept trying to relate the two strips somehow. It’s an obsessive habit of mine to process things in chunks which probably won’t bother you.
Witch Knots is very fairy tale-esque. In a little town called St. Forget, a witch named Aurora has some magic stones and she gives one to her assistant Roo. He boasts to some of his cronies (not friends) and they break into Aurora’s house and each steal one. Their greed leads to a lot of problems, which is proper base for a good story.
Adding to this feel is the bright watercolor and ink on a panel-less white background. What the comic is showing is the most interesting thing going on in that world although you suspect that there are plenty of other fun things that aren’t shown.
Part of that comes from an element that isn’t used; the setting shot. The pdf has a sort of overview shot of St. Forgetful but otherwise it’s all three panel-less scenes of the characters. So you can imagine all kinds of things going on in the background that you just don’t get to see. And part of that is the wonderful art and characterization that I just wanted to see more of.
Interestingly, another thing that makes Witch Knot different was revealed on the blog. “I try to avoid exposition and in some ways, that is what I’m dealing with here. When the strip finally appears, you’ll notice I fall back on elements of surrealism to keep it interesting.”
Surreality is when something bizarre or dreamlike, so it throws me off my tippy logic wagon. It’s supposed to. Some of that affect is reversed when I can later see how things have been explained without plain exposition or disguised character narration. Like all good stories, there is a basic path of cause and effect logic that persists even when you start talking about talking bears and porridge or boys climbing bean vines.
Of course, I should point out that Witch Knots is not just a run of the mill fairy tale. We see how the story plays out from different character vantage points and developments. If I may use the beanstalk fable as an example, we see what happens to Jack, his Mother, the bean seller and the Giant as they are all caught up in the same story; the themes expressed in different ways and with different results.
At the end of the pdf, everyone has been affected and some have paid high prices for their actions. It ties things up nicely.
What Did I Learn?
It’s still amazing to me what flights of fancy one can venture on with some color, character and dialog. Stories like Witch Knots add a striking visual twist on a complex but unified story. Comics are an amazing medium.