While college is a transitional period for most people, the protagonist of Skin Deep by Kory Bing takes that idea to a whole new level. Michelle Jocasta has barely finished unpacking the boxes in her dorm room when she is walking down a street and sees a mysterious amulet dropped by a stranger. The power of the amulet causes her to transform into a creature who is part human and part sphinx.
Fortunately, Michelle’s friends are there to help her navigate these unexpected changes. Assisted by Greg the Satyr, Merial the Nixie, and Jim the Opinicus (a subspecies of Griffin), Michelle learns the rules and limits of her abilities while dealing with the mysterious threats that begin to appear in the wake of the discovery she has made about herself.
As if discovering she is part of a magical lineage wasn’t enough, Michelle soon learns that sphinxes are thought to be extinct, making matters even more complicated. Fortunately, with the support of her friends (who have been through their own rough transitional periods), Michelle is able to gain perspective on her situation and begin working toward a deeper understanding of herself and her history.
Skin Deep draws upon many different mythological traditions as it steadily expands and advances its world-building, leading to appearances by a number of different creatures, including bugbears and Momo, the urban legend otherwise known as the Missouri Monster.
While Skin Deep has been published on paper, the entirety of the comic is available to read online. The story has been running since 2006 and has reached over 500 pages in length, so new readers have plenty of material to sink their teeth (or talons, or beaks) into!