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Mar 10

Webcomic Review – Ava’s Demon

Ava’s Demon is a web comic that started back in 2012, initially updating ~8-10 panels every Thursday. Due to a very successful Kickstarter to fund the first book being printed, the author Michelle Czajkowski has begun working on the comic full time. This has meant since January 2014 the comic updates on Mondays as well over on the website http://www.avasdemon.com/.

The Art

Where to begin…The art is simply stunning. The web comic is created digitally, but done in such a way that it looks painted. Michelle appears to have created her own style for this comic, and it really stands out. Colours play a huge part in this style, and are used to great effect as each major character seemingly has a colour associated with them, which I’ll touch on a bit later.

During the early part of the comic the unimportant details are kept simple to allow focus on the important stuff (such as characters). This becomes less of an issue as the comic progresses, allowing for some great scenes full of all sorts of detail (and the details are important!) and background scenery. Very little has changed in regards to the art style since the comic started, it’s mostly just minor refinements of what was already being done.

The Format

The format is very similar to the popular web comic MS Paint Adventures (the current story of which is “Homestuck”) with each page consisting of a single panel. Both also make use of animation (though Ava’s Demon uses it sparingly at the end of a few chapters). This is where the similarities end with their formats as while MSPA prompts the reader with all sorts of dialogues and internal monologues (and commands to the characters…); Ava’s Demon only gives the reader what the characters say out loud. The result of this is that the characters faces are a lot more expressive than you might see in some other web comics as we’re not privy to a characters inner monologue.

The number of panels in an update (~8-10) makes up for the fact that the panels are only small. The few animated pages (3 as of writing this) last about a minute, and while the animation is simple the music used to accompany it are a perfect fit. The downside is that the videos are hosted externally (on Vimeo) so some of the “immersion” is lost when you get to those pages. The first animation is at the end of chapter one and you can find it here which I would recommend watching. Please note the linked video contains very minor spoilers for chapter one, which will take you about 10 minutes to read if you’re that kind of thing bothers you.

One of the other advantages of the format is that it gives the web comic more of a “storyboard” feel. There’s a sense of movement between pages, which is not surprising given Michelle previously worked at DreamWorks and Pixar.

Michelle also hides little details in panels that can either hint and things to come or things that have happened before the story happened. This is normally done in a subtle way making it easy to miss, so you need to make sure you keep an eye on all the little things going on in the background.

The Themes

As already mentioned colours are recurring themes, with each main character having their own colours associated with them. Ava is associated with reds and oranges; Maggie is Green and turquoise etc.

However the biggest theme is probably that of the 7 deadly sins. Along with each character having their own colour(s) associated with them, they also appear to have one of the 7 deadly sins, for example Ava’s would be associated with “wrath”.

Finally shapes seem to be another theme. The exact purpose is still a bit of a mystery, but each character has different shaped pupils.

The Story

The story takes place in the distant future; one page suggests it’s the year 3031, some 1000 years into the future. Most of the known universe is currently under the rule of someone called “TITAN” (capital letters and all) with most of the colonies worshipping him as a God, despite nobody really having seen him. This is where the story enters, a young girl called Ava is attending school at one of TITAN’s colonies. Appearing to be hunted by her inner demons Ava seemingly has some problems to those around her, what with the random outbursts.

She’s eventually forced to leave the colony and decides (somewhat) to go and discover more about TITAN and the events surrounding him and other characters. This is due to her creating a “pact” with another character. Pacts are used as a contract between two parties with both sides having a request that the other can (presumably) fulfil, with the cost of failing a pact said to be extremely high.

Final Verdict

Ava’s Demon is worth reading. The art stands out from the majority of web comics and the story is well written and has a clear direction in mind (with Michelle estimating it to run to around 7000 pages). The format is a bit unusual if you haven’t read something similar (e.g. MS Paint adventures), but it works for this web comic. As of writing this there are only ~900 pages, which you can easily read in a couple of hours, which I highly recommend you go do!