When I originally revisited The Meek in 2014, or maybe early 2015, while compiling a list of comics I wanted to write reviews for, I was disappointed to find that it hadn’t been updated for a couple of years and assumed it had been abandoned.
However in May 2015 it restarted and has been updated regularly since. The author has indicated the she didn’t stop producing the comic due to a lack of interest but some kind of external factor temporarily prevented her from being able to publish.
So I’m feeling confident that The Meek will be with us on an ongoing basis now, not least because the author has a decent Patreon following. Here’s hoping!
The characters and comic concept
Despite being nearly 200 pages in, The Meek is still in its very early stages. It’s therefore a little hard to say exactly what it’s all “about”.
The Meek, if reduced to its most core concept, is a classic epic fantasy story, and like many stories in this genre is about a struggle between an evil that threatens to destroy mankind and a good that seeks to save it.
But there’s a bit more to it than that. The author is weaving together three completely separate narratives, with three separate sets of characters, occurring at what we presume to be roughly the same time. Of course this isn’t new; it’s been done many times before, the perhaps most famous recent example being George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones for those who watched it on TV). But as George has demonstrated this is an ambitious task and you may end up writing yourself into a corner, causing you to only release 2 books in the last eleven years. Though to be fair, George has written from twenty two different characters perspectives, not three, so The Meek hopefully won’t get stuck in quite the same way.
But still it’s fair to say that The Meek strikes me as ambitious but, despite some minor quibbles, it’s got off to a stellar start. All three sets of characters are engaging with compelling storylines, I’d happily read any one of them as a stand-alone story but here we are being treated to all three.
Our first, and I believe principal, storyline follows Angora, whose dislike of wearing clothes is as strong as it is inexplicable. She’s young, and naïve, actually naïve to such an extreme that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me, but maybe it will come clear why this is at a later point. She is joined by Pinter, a mapmaker who is a lost cause alcoholic but a good-un at heart.
Then our second storyline following emperor Luca, a troubled soul haunted by the memories of a terrible war, his wife Phe, and children Rana, Luca and Hyla. This group of characters are easily my favourites, with some nice depth of personality on display. These are characters with some positive qualities and strengths, but terribly flawed at the same time, which always makes for interesting reading in my opinion. There are also some really well done, believable, family tensions/dynamics going on.
The third follows a mercenary gun-slinger with criminal tendencies by the name of Soli and her young sidekick Alamand. We haven’t spent as much time with these characters but Soli is the serious, taciturn one with a tendency to anger easily. Alamand is the talkative young scoundrel with lofty ambitions and romantic notions.
There is a whiff of cliché in our first and last character sets which I’ve likely accentuated with my simplistic descriptions. But the author has pushed these characters past what are perhaps stereotypes with some good dialogue, interesting quirks, and enough depth to carry it off.
The secondary characters have all been engaging and with enough distinct personality to give their interactions with our main cast some weight to them.
As mentioned above, despite being nearly 200 pages in, we’ve not actually moved that far into the story of The Meek as yet. The story is paced well and develops at a rate that hold the interest but the three way split between the different sets of characters means a slower overall rate of progress. So it’s a bit hard to say what it’s all about, beyond the obvious good vs. evil struggle. Relationships certainly feature heavily, mostly those of family and friends, and they’ve been both a strength and focal point of the story so far.
In terms of story what we have seen so far has been promising, the plot elements themselves are fairly standard but they’re well presented, supported by some good dialogue and presented within a well-developed and conceived world. The world building in particular has been well done, there’s a good depth of detail that gives you the sense of the world and time. The story is semi-historical; not set in our world, but set in another world’s equivalence of our 19th century and this works well in the story.
To the negative, there have been a couple of story elements that don’t, on the face of it, quite make sense. These haven’t caused a significant problem so far, and could be addressed in later events, but they caused me to disconnect slightly with the story when encountered.
The coloured art is a lovely cartoony style, everyone has really big eyes :-). It’s done to a high level throughout the comic.
Author, publishing and timeline
The creator of The Meek is Der-Shing Helmer. She has a degree in biology but now works professionally as a graphic and comic artist. She has another web comic that I will review in due course called Mare Internum and has done art on other published works.
The Meek Volume 1 is being kick started right now but it only hasfew days left at the time of writing so you may have missed that boat. However I’d expect there to be ongoing sales so while there is nothing on the site right now have a look around and see if volume 1 is for sale.
As mentioned above The Meek is a piece of work on an epic scale and you can easily see it going for another 10-15 chapters in addition to the already finished four. At the current page rate the author can probably finish one and a bit chapters per year. So I would guess that this work has at least 10 years to go until completion.