This week, we’ll be exploring an enchanting tale of magic, spiritual hair, and talking ravens with Ariel Slamet Ries’ graphic novel “Witchy.”
In a magical kingdom where the strength of an individual’s magic is determined by the length of their hair, Hyalin is ruled by a corrupt viceroy who deems anyone with hair too long an enemy of the kingdom. Nyneve, a young witch with extraordinarily long hair, is conscripted into the Witch Guard against her will and severs her hair. She must go on the run, risking loved ones and her planned future of peace, or be caught and punished by a witch burning.
“Witchy” tells a story about finding your place in life. Nyneve has always felt like an outsider in a country that values natural talent over study and practice. She dreams of a quiet life filled with academics and teaching, but she is thrust into a life-changing situation she has fought against since early childhood. The complexity of Nyneve is one of the more intriguing parts of Witchy; she is a wonderfully flawed protagonist and an anti-chosen one. She bucks the responsibility of joining a small rebellion as the face of a revolution despite her travelling companion’s pushy attitude. Nyneve isn’t even good at traditional magic despite her hair length, but this plot point is shown to be an issue of her kingdom’s system of teaching magic, not her own inability.
The story focuses on the idea of natural-born talent vs. practice and hard work. Nyneve’s mother is a wonderful example of the prejudice the kingdom of Hyalin has within its magical hierarchy. Those with short hair are seen as weak magic-users and cannot rise above that perception. Nyneve’s mother has shoulder length hair, but was a member of the Witch Guard, a prestigious branch of the military. She stays head-to-head in a battle against multiple adversaries and only falls when her guard is down for a moment. The theme of practice and hard work continues with Nyneve as well as she learns the lost art of broom-making while on the run.
“Witchy” originally began as an online comic which was posted under the Hiveworks online publication hub and now has a print format available for purchase. The rising tension within the story always made the wait between pages agonizing, but so worth it when a new page would appear. The style change in the comic from its first page until the most recent has stayed fairly consistent despite the author clearly becoming comfortable with their comic style and even modifying the coloring to become more iconic and value-based as the story progressed.
“Witchy” is easily one of my top favorite comics for its gorgeous art and wonderful storytelling. If you have a craving for action fantasy and a trope-defying protagonist, be sure to check out “Witchy.”
"Witchy" is available to read for free online through Hiveworks at www.witchycomic.com.