Calla and the Forest Gods by Wendy Xu is a gorgeous fantasy webcomic with a beautifully realized world. The story follows Calla, a girl who lives with her grandmother and her younger brother, Hau, in a setting that is inspired by the invisible elements of the woods and the scenery of Yunnan.
In the first episode of the webcomic, Calla and her mount, a feathered omnivorous hybrid-dragon named Mau, are traveling through the forest when they encounter a large group of spore spirits. Soon, Calla has paused to forage some mushrooms.
The depictions of mushrooms and spores in Calla and the Forest Gods are especially delightful considering Xu’s interest in fungi, as seen in her illustrated interview with Merlin Sheldrake.
Out of curiosity, Calla follows the spore spirits, and they lead her to a mycelium-filled tunnel. After crawling through it, she encounters the Voice of the Soil.
By the conclusion of the first episode, which was released today, the reader has been given a tantalizing glimpse of the system of magic at work in the world of Calla and the Forest Gods, thanks to an assessment performed by the Voice of the Soil that catalogues the protective wards placed on Calla.
With absolutely breathtaking art – especially when it comes to depictions of food and fantasy – and an emphasis on the quieter, more overlooked elements of fantasy, Calla and the Forest Gods promises to be a spectacular and singular journey.
If you’d like to support Xu directly, you can donate to her Patreon, which will put you at least one episode ahead of the current release schedule on Tapas. And you’ll want to follow her on Twitter to keep up with all the latest updates on her art! Plus: you can read about the time The Beat visited her Animal Crossing island, Salt Falls!