Hello Demon Archives fans, it’s melaredblu again! It’s been a while since I found a comic to shamelessly gush about, but trust me, you’re gonna love this one. It’s called Heart of Keol by Keiii, and if visuals like this—
—don’t get your attention, well, what’s it like being made of stone? I’ve always wondered.
It all begins when Ethan Norme, a young man making an unhappy living while his family falls apart, meets a strange boy who seems to know all about him. Without warning, the boy sends Ethan away from everything he knows to a place called Keol, a land that you’d be forgiven to think was Korea in the distant past—if it weren’t for all the magical beings inhabiting the land. In fact, there’s more magic than not in the world, most notably plant magic. The first person Ethan meets, Danbi, showcases an ability to control plants and it appears he uses these powers to serve his community, but instead of gratitude and admiration, he is mocked for it.
Danbi, we learn, is a Suyori, a person whose magical influence over plants is meant to protect and serve their village—and this is almost always womens’ work. After some brief and hilarious misunderstandings, including a mild language barrier, Ethan learns from Danbi of a place called The Heart of Keol, where Visitors like him enter their world. In this place, Ethan may have a chance to return to Earth if his so chooses, but Ethan isn’t the only one who wants to leave. Danbi has plans of his own to travel from home with his niece, a young cross-species girl, in hope of escaping their status as outcasts, but even banding together, it won’t be an easy journey. It’s a long way to go and somebody is hunting them down…
How I Found It:
Like many other webcomics I follow closely, I came across this one via Comic Underdogs. Specifically, I found it in a comment exchange thread and I’m glad I did. I fell in love with the art right away and I’ve been a big fan of the comic as a whole since then.
Why I Like It:
Have I made it evident that I love the art? Those of you who read my review of Cucumber Quest might know that I’m a sucker for pretty colors, but Keiii’s art is unlike any I’ve seen. It mixes the fluid, organic feel of thick, loose inkbrush-style outlines with the luminous brilliance of digital paints. Every page oozes radiance of an almost dreamlike quality, from the magical special effects to simple mood lighting. Keol is an absolutely gorgeous world that makes you wish you could step right into it.
Especially when Keol is a world where the bathrooms…
…look like this. Did I mention this comic can be really funny?
Once I got past the initial puppy love the art incited in me, I found the characters also quite engaging. Ethan, acting as a confused, well-meaning everyman, is easy to relate to and never too far from the action, even when he’s clearly out of his league. He’s also a magnet for incredibly awkward moments, which is always delightful to watch. Of course, Danbi is also engaging in his own way—sweet-natured, humble, and melancholic, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him, seeing how things never go his way. Add the roster Danbi’s adorable niece, his fellow Suyori, an antagonist with insurmountable levels of magical power, and a mysterious third party whose motives are yet unknown, and there’s certainly plenty of reasons to keep coming back to this story to see what happens to the people of Keol—and the rising number of Keol invaders.
Things I Think Could Be Better:
The only real weak point with this comic that I can see is the pacing. This is somewhat of a subjective problem that I, personally, don’t mind too much, but there does seem to be a rather slow buildup to the actual journey to the Heart of Keol. As I write this, the story seems to be building to that part now, so it’s quite possibly a moot point now, but I do get the sense that some of the worldbuilding, while very interesting, is taking up screentime where the plot ought to be. That isn’t to say there hasn’t been any action. Far from it, there have been fights, danger, and conflict the whole way through, but I’m anxious to see the real journey begin. With the story progressing as it is now, however, I suspect the wait may be over soon, which means now is a great time to start reading this comic if you’re new to it.
So far, I’ve avoided reviewing comics I’ve found through the Underdogs group because there’s already a pretty big overlap of Demon Archives readers and Underdogs as it is. The comics I’ve reviewed before are ones I started reading quite some time ago, but this one is relatively new to me. I only just started reading it this year and it’s become one of my favorite fantasy comics. What else can I say? I really like this comic and I have no doubt I’ll continue to be a fan of it for a long time.