Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Infernal Review. Let’s be honest, the world is full of monsters. Everywhere you turn it seems there are vampires, werewolves, demons, and reality TV celebrities. Sometimes it’s necessary to learn how to defend yourself from such things. Sometimes you need to take a class in…
Written and illustrated by Kel McDonald, Sorcery 101 is an urban fantasy series set in an alternate world much like ours, where vampires, werewolves, and all other kinds of night-bumpers exist. Unlike our monsters, however, these are somewhat different; werewolves, for example, have tails even in human form, vampires can essentially grant someone immortality without biting them, dogs are purple, etc. Although the existence of the supernatural has been leaked in this universe, it’s still mostly disbelieved by the general populace and kept under wraps through the organized effort of what amounts to the magical Men in Black.The web comic follows Danny, a chain-smoking high-school teacher from (Not Exactly) England living in (Not Really) North America, and his friends Brad, a stay-at-home werewolf dad, his spell-slinging wife Ally, their 5 year-old werewolf daughter Rebecca, and a small gathering of other characters, such as Pat, the misanthropic vampire that’s teaching Danny sorcery, and Seth, the psychopathic vampire with whom Danny has a “blood bond”.
The art for Sorcery 101 is fairly good… now. The first 3 ½ or so chapters were redrawn and replaced with better art than the originals and to be honest, the art style is pretty good. It’s not exactly spectacular mind-blowing art, but it makes use of a lot of unusual angles, shifting from panel to panel. This gives it a sort of TV drama feeling and makes it much more striking all around than if it just consisted of the same perspective in every panel. Just before the fifth chapter, the art goes back to a much more flawed style, with wonkier perspective, heavier lines, overused shading, and much harsher linework. Reading a comic like this is almost like being a time-traveler; you start off seeing the art how it will be, then have to wait until it gets there later in the series. The art does eventually get much better again, though to be honest, the comic could benefit from a wider array of character designs. A lot of characters end up looking a little too much alike, especially the ones that just sort of appear for a chapter or linger in the background.
The writing for the comic is decent. So far, there is no over-arching story arc, per se. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really more like a TV drama or sitcom that features a cast of unusual, supernatural characters leading their unusual, supernatural lives. The dialogue for most characters is alright; everyone in the main cast is distinct enough that you can usually tell who’s meant to say what even without the speech bubbles. Other than the main characters, however, you could really swap out anyone’s lines outside of context and they’d end up sounding much the same.
Danny is the closest thing to a protagonist in the series. Short, flirtatious, and very geeky, he has an acerbic wit that’s liable to cut anyone that crosses him. He also likes to think he’s cooler than he is. He lives with Brad, Ally, and Rebecca in their home and is currently studying magic under Pat (with varying degrees of success). His blood bond with the chaotic evil Seth means that he’s perpetually linked with him and, while he may still be killed, he will never grow older, a fact that looms over him more and more as time passes and he enters into one relationship after another. While he may pose as a lowly high-school teacher, Danny also has a bit of an infamous and high profile past, one which repeatedly haunts him and threatens to invade his present life.
Brad is Danny’s best friend and an even bigger geek than he is. He used to be an artist, but since his lycanthropy renders him colorblind on top of everything else, it makes it difficult for him to find stable employment. This makes Ally, a bar-keeper and bodyguard for the supernatural mafia Alpha Phoenix, the main breadwinner in the family. Beleaguered by his lack of control over his own life, Brad struggles with his condition, even as he knows there’s little he can do about it. Ally, on the other hand, takes charge repeatedly, both in her career and in her home life. While she’s not exactly domineering, Ally is used to taking action as a result of the events that define her past, events that have repercussions in her present and threaten to endanger her family.
All in all, Sorcery 101 is a good web comic, full of many good ideas and interesting characters, only some of which I covered here. If it had a flaw, it’s that its art and story begin a little flat and overcrowded. However, as the world and characters are explored gradually, the creativity behind them begins to shine through. Sorcery 101 was created in 2005 by Kel McDonald and is the first of her series set in her Veiled Truths universe. Sorcery 101, including all images used here, belongs to her. I really do recommend giving the comic a try. You might find there’s a little spark of magic in it after all.