Mars Needs Witches: Should You Be Reading ‘Sylvania’?
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Imagine spending your whole life living in the same place, doing the same thing, with the same people. You’re happy, you think. But when an opportunity of a lifetime comes along, are you happy enough to stay?
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Sylvania follows three tree witch sisters --- Willow, Juniper, and Rowan --- as their lives start to diverge. Willow and Juniper have come of age, become full tree witches, and are starting to think about what their future holds. Rowan is still a kid, but wishes she was an adult; she’s ready for adventures.
The world in which the Sylvan sisters live is filled with magic. In addition to the tree witch clan, there are also clans of star witches, fish witches, and bird witches. The various clans don’t tend to mingle too much, and they rarely understand each other, but they’re friendly enough. They just all tend to stick with their own people.
Some star witches come to visit, and make a request. They need a representative from each magical clan to help them with an ambitious project: terraforming Mars.
WHO’S IT BY?
Sylvania is written and illustrated by Kristin Kemper. Kemper studied animation at the School of Visual Arts; her thesis film High Tide has been screened at numerous film festivals worldwide. She’s illustrated some other comics, but Sylvania is her first major comic work as writer and illustrator.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
With fantasy stories, a lot relies on worldbuilding. Even over 100 pages in, we still don’t know that much about the witch clans, how magic works, or how people started the colony on Mars. What we do have is enough to intrigue. More of the magical lore will come out as these witches start bringing their Earth magic to Mars.
Sylvania isn’t just a fantasy comic, though. It’s also a family comic. You really get a sense that these three have known each other forever, and have the same fights over and over again, but love each other just the same. Rowan acts a bit more like comic relief, but she’s the youngest child of the family and, well, that’s pretty accurate for many families. Their frustrations with each other, and fear for each other, feel very real.
The art adds to the magical feel. It’s warm and soft, with sharper, brighter lines representing spells. Kemper’s also got a great knack for faces; you can see Rowan rolling her eyes and groaning at her sisters through the static page.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Anyone who wants to be a witch or wizard. Anyone who wants to go where no one has gone before. Anyone with a sibling.
WHERE CAN I GET IT?
Sylvania is available online, published by Comicker Digital. It’s also been collected into issues, available digitally on Comixology and DriveThruComics, and in print at some conventions.