By Oliver Gerlach
The Demon Archives, an ongoing webcomic, is finally transitioning to print through a Kickstarter campaign, approximately two-thirds of the way to reaching its goal as of the time of writing. The kickstarted first volume will contain the first three chapters of the webcomic, currently on its fifth chapter.
These first three chapters set the scene efficiently and engagingly: in a post-apocalyptic future, a militarized organization struggles to rebuild civilization. It’s fun and exciting stuff, if not the most original premise. That being said, the world building is clearly done with passion and dedication. It’s all very carefully thought through, and simple things like the choices of names for tools show that clearly and with minimal expository dialogue. There’s a vibrant world in here, and the creative team bring it to life deftly.
All of the characters are likeable and have distinctive voices, although the plot is not particularly complex as yet. However, it looks like that may well be coming later; this first volume sets the stage for potential interesting developments. It feels a little brief as a collection, and perhaps could have done with a little more content, but there’s a fun military sci-fi adventure in here and some solid character work.
The art throughout is distinctive and impressive; Piriz draws simple but characterful faces, and his boxy armour designs are very effective. It’s his colouring that really stands out, though; the whole book is primarily coloured in pastel oranges, bringing the bleakness of the post-nuclear wasteland to life and enabling the occasional splashes of brighter colour to really stand out. The guest artists of the final chapter, however, raise it to a different level. After a great deal of similar action, this presents a format-breaking surprise filled with explosive colours and stark black Mignola-esque shadows, as well as some pleasingly experimental panel layouts. Beyond that, the cover designs for the individual chapters are excellent, particularly Basla’s cover to the final chapter, a striking image that would make one hell of a poster. For the most part, this is a solid (if unoriginal) series with some great visual work. Unfortunately, though, it is not without its major problems.
The series is let down dramatically by its production design and lettering. The dialogue and captions are poorly laid out and poorly ballooned, giving an amateurish feel to what is otherwise very professional and eye-catching artwork. The design of the printed book is also lacking, with title pages that look crudely slapped together with minimal effort. The text is often poorly aligned, and the random mixture of fonts used is slightly offputting. It’s a shame, as this is a book that could be great if polished up a little bit and assembled into an attractive form. Overall, it’s not bad at all, but the production issues are unfortunately distracting and bring the whole book down.
The Demon Archives vol. 1
Writers: Daniel Sharp, Nick Sharp
Artists: Sebastian Piriz, Matias Basla, Nicolas Leon
Publisher: Self-published (via Kickstarter)