A review by Webcomics World. Reprinted with permission.
Review copyright its author.

 Review: Demonology 101

by Bevan Thomas

There are a lot of webcomics out there. Many of them are cynical, many are sardonic, some are downright nasty, but a few are a little more upbeat, managing to be sweet and cheerful without being sanitized or puerile. One of the sweetest (not to mention best) webcomics I’ve read is Demonology 101.

That’s right.

It’s called Demonology 101.

The comic’s creator, Faith Hicks, has produced a comic that combines dark plots, dastardly villains, and diabolic demons with the charming story of a young girl growing up, making friends, and trying to find her place in the world. The girl in questions is Raven, a demon (though you can only tell that by her pointed ears) of sixteen years who’s trying to get through high-school. She tries to live a normal life, but must contend with the machinations of both Isaac Jenner (a wealthy demon-summoner and brother to Raven’s guardian) and Raven’s demon relatives.

Part of the joy of a well-written magic realism (or "urban fantasy" if you prefer the term) is how well the creator has integrated the supernatural and the natural world, where the strange and the mystical blend so completely with the mundane that the supernatural seems natural and the real seems surreal. Fortunately, Ms. Hicks does this admirably. She creates a world where demons and high-school, monster-hunting and adolescent pranks, the stress of being non-human and the stress of not passing class are seamlessly stitched together.

Ms. Hicks’ demons are a mixture of Judeo-Christian lore and her own maniac imagination. Though most of the demons are malignant, at least to humanity, they are three-dimensional characters with unique personalities, from Elspeth, who possesses surprisingly undemonic affection and love for her niece Raven, to Lethe, a devilish rogue who’s as charming as he is self-serving. Ms. Hicks gives the demons their own culture, replete with Biblical symbolism, making a enthralling and intricate supernatural species.

Of course, a well-crafted world would be nothing if not coupled with enchanting characters and an engaging story. And Faith Hicks does not skimp on either. Her characters drive the story and express its moods, running from adorably charming to darkly dramatic. The cast of characters includes the aforementioned Raven and her school chums Mal and Mackenzie, who are constantly pulling pranks and acting the clown and Raven’s guardian Gabriel and his comrades John and Poe, who are fighting a shadow war against the demons. The characters are believable, and they fit each other like pieces of a puzzle.

The story itself grows naturally from the world and its characters. Unlike many other comics, Demonology 101 is not static, but is constantly evolving as more and more information is revealed about the characters’ pasts, about the nature of the demons, and, most importantly, about Raven’s future, whether she truly belongs with humans or demons.

All these components: the enchanting characters, serial story, and fascinating world, are packaged in wonderful manga-esque artwork which ranges from utterly adorable to starkly sinister in the space of two panels. Ms. Hicks’ art complements her writing style perfectly.

Demonology 101 is a great webcomic because it masters everything that’s necessary for a great story-based comic: an absorbing story, intricate characters, a believable world, and beautiful art.

And it’s got heart. Lots of heart. For beyond all the battles between heroes and villains, the creepy wonder of the mysterious demon race, and the thrill of seeing the story reveal itself, there is a little girl trying to deal with being different and being adolescent. A girl having fun with wacky friends.

Demonology 101 is updated every Sunday night at http://faith.rydia.net/index.html.

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