Slightly damned is one of those comics that started out fairly rough around the edges. Now it’s a popular, well written web-comic that’s won awards and remains a consistently enjoyable read.
The characters and comic concept
Set on the world of Medius Slightly Damned is primarily the story of Rhea, a murdered Jakkai, and her afterlife.
Not good enough for admission to heaven but not evil enough to deserve hell Rhea is consigned to the outer ring of hell. There she meets Buwaro, a child-like fire demon, who is nominally placed in charge of her.
But times are turbulent and there are changes in progress that will upset heaven, hell and earth. Our duo find themselves somewhat in the middle of things.
The characters evolve quite a bit from their first conception but end up as well developed characters with plenty of personality – I found it very easy to connect with the characters.
There is a third main character introduced in the second chapter, Kieri an angel, who I’m not going to discuss in detail as to avoid spoilers, whose personality feels a bit more generic to me or lacking in depth. However you still get a good feel for her personality and she continues to develop and improve.
Probably the strongest, certainly my favourite, element of Slightly Damned is the relationship between Rhea and Buwaro and their characters in general. They develop a big sister/little brother relationship in a way that feels very natural and uncontrived to me.
The story is not super complicated or deep, it’s more at the level of a likeable anime – enjoyable light hearted fun rather than nuanced plot. Still there clearly is an overall plot/story and things are moving along in recent chapters.
There are some issues with pacing, while there does seem to be an overarching plot there is a section from about chapter three to five where the story doesn’t advance much. Generally things develop quite slowly, in a sort of rambling way but I’ve always enjoyed the journey.
There are some romantic elements in the story, young love and all that. You may see that as a plus or a minus depending on your preferences but I found it all rather endearing.
There is some interesting world building and back story going on as well. Some nicely thought out touches that gives the environment in which the characters move a bit of depth.
The art starts out pretty rough at the beginning of the series but improves tremendously throughout and is now pretty good, though the style varies from time to time.
The author studied animation at school, where apparently she started what would become Slightly Damned, and there are some pages in recent chapters that looks like animations stills which makes me think that maybe she’s continued that interest – they look pretty impressive in any case. Although she seems to have moved away from that in the most recent chapter.
Probably due to time constraints some of the backgrounds can be quite generic and are often just colour panels. Ideally I’d like to see more of the world the characters live in with some nice background details dropped in. But then I’m greedy and unreasonable :-)
Author, publishing and timeline
The author is Sarah “Chu” Wilson, a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara with two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Japanese.
Like many webcomic authors her stated goal is to go full time in comic writing. Not sure how close she is getting to that with Slightly Damned but let’s hope she gets there one day soon.
In the Ursa Major Awards Slightly Damned won both the Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work and the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story categories in 2012 and then again 2013.
Slightly Damned is available in print or digital formats via a link on the comics webpage.