Ava has been haunted all her life by a demon only she can see. Since birth, the demon has committed petty acts of cruelty on meek Ava by possessing her at inopportune times, distancing Ava from any friends or companionship. Ava has never understood why she is cursed, but when her planet is blown up by the galactic tyrant Titan, and Ava, her demon, her ex-best friend, and a mysterious new student, are the only survivors, Ava finally confronts her demon and is set on a new path that will lead her across galaxies.
Ava’s Demon is a sci-fi/fantasy webcomic written and drawn by Michelle Czajkowski. Most of the comics I review here follow the conventional page layouts of print comics, breaking the page walls occasionally for effect, but Ava’s Demon eschews traditional comic formatting. Ava’s Demon looks like storyboards. Each page is a panel (or two, occasionally), and flipping through them in quick succession can sometimes produce a flip book effect, with characters jumping through a landscape. Storyboards are unfinished, in-between steps however, and nothing in Ava’s Demon looks unfinished.
The plot of the comic evolves into “Find them All” quest, as Ava must find the six others who have demons attached to them. Each demon has their own look, theme, color, power set, realm. For example, Ava’s demon Wrathia is a magma-looking woman, who embodies the sin of wrath, is represented by red and orange, has flame powers, and a inner realm of magma and cabinets. Another represents Lust, is green, has plant powers, and a painted fairy land realm, and so forth. Each demon feels like a design exercise. The main appeal, story wise, of the comic is finding all the demons and seeing how they differ. This is compelling because of Czajkowski’s outstanding art.
The art of Ava’s Demon is exemplary. Each page explodes with rich colors. The backgrounds are fantastically rendered and imaginative and feel like the painted backgrounds in animation cells. The pages will have bold complementary color schemes, with landscapes in orange and sea foam blue, or violent reds and computer glow greens. The characters, especially the demons, are all very visually distinct. Even props (keys, books, glasses) are all designed to look cool and specific. Czajkowski creates iconic items that bring the reader further into the story. You can see the effectiveness of this in the Ava’s Demon kickstarter, where Ava’s key is recognizable and neat looking enough to be a reward level. Being so specific with the physical details of a world makes the world feel realer.
I mentioned how Ava’s Demon feels like animation, but there are parts of the comic that actually are animated. Big scenes in the comic will be punctuated by animated sections. For example, here is the scene of Ava’s home planet being blown up. They’re not fully animated, like something you would see on Cartoon Network, more like motion comics. These sections are lovely and they really explore what can be done with a digital format. Even without these animated sections, Ava’s Demon’s unique page layouts are clearly meant for a digital platform. There is a print edition of Ava’s Demon, but unlike other comics I’ve mentioned that feel like print comics scanned and put online, Ava’s Demon feels like a digital project first and foremost.
Ava’s Demon updates in batches (a few pages/panels in each update), usually on Thursdays. The comic can be slow to update sometimes, but it’s a real treat for the patient.