Webcomic Review: Spindrift

I’m always on the lookout for awesome talents in the field of visual storytelling—and it’s an exciting time for us as new methods of self-publication make it possible to reach a wider audience. From time to time, I’ll come across something that strikes me as so utterly awesome, I’m simply compelled to dissect it (as part of my personal learning process) and share it with others.

In the past, I’ve reviewed Off-White and Lost in the Vale and now I’m pleased to say I’ve got a new favorite:

Like Off-White, Spindrift is sort of a DeviantArt darling; indeed, that’s where I was first exposed to it and I simply can’t say enough good stuff about this handsomely constructed masterpiece of visual storytelling.

In terms of content, we see a lot of familiar fantasy tropes here: the Moses-style origins of a half-breed character born on the margins on society and therefore unable to really fit in… Warring races in a far-away land filled with magic… But the reader can sense that there’s so much comprehensive depth behind this well-worn façade that rather than being obnoxious or dull, it’s a relief—it gives you a strong jumping-off point from which you can embrace all the nuances and subtleties presented in story and visual cues from panel to panel.

This is the total package here. Incredible in-depth world-building—the stuff you’d generally expect from an entire team of artists and developers—and a gripping plot pull the reader in immediately. The sumptuous talents of an artist with skill and style to spare mean that even after 80+ pages, I still haven’t spotted a weak scene. Set aside a couple hours for this one, because once you start, you won’t want to stop. And they’ve generously posted all sorts of extras to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what’s in store for us as this epic fantasy tale unfolds.

There’s just one terribly sad caveat: the artist in question recently experienced a devastating family tragedy and production on this webcomic has been spotty over the last few months. It feels selfish to say one wishes she would recover quickly so we can share in more of her tremendous work, but there it is.

This is one of the finest examples I’ve ever seen for the new art of visual storytelling. Whenever I hear mainstream comics lament their inability to broach their own self-created borders and find new readers, I think of incredible original works like this. It’s inspirational to see, and it’s something I know I’ll continue to strive towards and aspire to as a creator myself. Go read it, you won’t be disappointed.

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