Webcomic: Lies Eternal
Creator/s: Gabriel Velarde, Heather Uebel, Franziska Oertel
The fixed orange-and-red background looks great and helps makes a solid first impression. The transparent navigation buttons are cool, too, although, apart from that, it's a fairly standard WordPress layout like I've seen in a bunch of webcomics before. The author info and social media pages are nice additions, but I would've liked to see a bit more, such as concept artwork or some information on the setting. Lastly, there are occasionally comments from the creator placed between pages, and they distract from the story somewhat and would be better off somewhere besides the archives.
The comic confronts surrealism's storytelling problems with a heavy dose of creativity and whimsy, providing a brisk read that I found to be surprisingly accessible. Being based to some extent on H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories, there's a liberating lack of concern for past and future, allowing Lies Eternal
to more effectively represent a dream state than some of the other surrealism webcomics I've reviewed. In lieu of a real plot, the story offers a series of nonsensical problems with deus ex machina
-type resolutions, and, backed up by the playful but refined prose, the reader gets to momentarily revel in a consequence-free world. It's sort of like turning on an invincibility cheat in a game and goofing around.
The story really picks up on Page 50
when the adventurous Eno's introduced, as that's the point when the Dreamlands suddenly change from being dark and scary to being colorful and exciting. He's a much better character than the nameless, angtsy, Bella Swan-like protagonist, who never manages to be interesting or likable. Part of Eno's appeal is that he's usually described in the prose rather than being shown in the artwork, especially in the more action-oriented scenes, and that lets the reader imagine him as a larger-than-life figure. An example of this is when the characters are fighting on the pirate ship
, and beneath an image of the blushing girl is the line, "Eno's blade traced death and dismemberment." Another cool thing about him is how comfortable he is with the freedom and empowerment of the Dreamlands, whether he's casting magic spells, traveling to weird places, or hurling chili-filled balloons at his enemies
. The girl seems to get more and more attracted to Eno as the story progresses, and I think the readers do as well. There's also a bittersweet nature to their relationship, in that he'll be gone once she wakes up and returns to her angst-filled teenage life
A particularly imaginative section I'd like to highlight is when the protagonists visit the fleshy Carnal City
and witness the Rite of Excitement. The pages are set up like the characters are exploring the inside of a vagina, and the scene manages to feel sexual without depicting nudity or sex. Not only does this symbolic approach help keep the story feeling lighthearted and whimsical, but it also provides a bizarre maze of organs and veins
for the characters to explore, making it a unique and memorable setting. Having a priesthood devoted to sexuality's also a cool idea, as it's something religion typically restricts or opposes.
The large, textless panels provide for a lot of creative freedom, and both artists who've worked on the project have taken full advantage of it. As the story takes place in a fantasy world, depicting the strange environments is particularly important, and this webcomic luxuriously delivers colorful, detailed backgrounds page after page. A really neat thing the comic does in this regard is that the panels often have miscellaneous elements, like the strange fossils in this page
and the guy riding a bubble-blowing whale in this page
, that aren't mentioned in the prose or are really relevant to the story. These bits and details add to the feeling of exploring a new, magical world where you don't know what to expect to find next, which is a really fun feeling to have. The previous artist and the current one convey the setting with different styles, as the former's work is more cutesy and cartoonish while the latter's is grittier and more realistic, but both of the artists seem comfortable illustrating a surrealistic story.
As for the panel-and-prose layout, the creators could experiment with it a bit more. I'm not fond of the woodlike texture used as a border, and the oversized punctuation marks are a little distracting. In addition, the text isn't always aligned neatly and should possibly be a different font, and the exterior white space could be changed so that the presentation feels more cohesive.
The creator notes on Page 30
that "Lies Eternal
is not quite a web comic," but, fortunately, I'm not worried about trying to fit it into a category. It's cool, it's creative, it's different, it's got great artwork, and it manages to be appealing in a way that surrealism webcomics usually aren't. If this sort of unconventional storytelling can manage to catch on with an audience, I can see it becoming less of an oddity and more of a neat new thing in webcomics.