Creator: Laurence Dea Dionne Publisher: Self-published
WHAT IS IT?
This is a regularly updated free webcomic focusing on mental health and wellbeing, created by a single cartoonist doing all the writing, art & lettering.
It's difficult to compare it to a movie or TV show, since they tend to dramatize stories around mental health so much. Maybe a toned-down version of Girl, Interrupted, but with spirits?
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Determined to fight her depression, Moé decides to take a meditation retreat, but quickly discovers how difficult it can be to truly "get away."
Some people there are too chatty. Others don't seem to want to be friendly at all. Nothing is comfortable, especially when meditating.
To make matters worse, ghosts start to appear. They're not scary ghosts, and they don't haunt her traditionally, but they get in the way of her meditation and soul-searching, and no one else seems to be able to see them.
Why are they there? What do they want? And why can only Moé interact with them? And will she ever be able to find her zen in an environment like this?
It's free on the Tapas & Webtoons apps!
The art quality is high, especially for a free comic and especially for a title by a cartoonist wearing all the comic creator hats
The washes used feel inspired by Matt Hollingsworth's colors and give the pages a tranquil watercolor aesthetic (see what I mean in the below image)
I really appreciate Dea Dionne's attention to positive associations of mental health and wellbeing and the destigmatization of putting life on hold to focus on those important things
The hand drawn letters and word balloons work well with the art to give the whole book an organic feel
I really enjoy Dea Dionne's sound effect work, often exploding off the page and panel
The representation of depression and negative thoughts reminds me of how Selina Espiritu showed negative self-talk in the comic, Brave Chef Brianna
The retreat in the comic is meant to be for silent mediation, but Dea Dionne shows a constant "Brouhaha" throughout, which is just so human, the idea of people wanting to escape and find serenity but ending up chattering away
Even the main character, Moé, vacillates between wanting peace and quiet and wanting to go out and make friends
The ghosts seem to symbolize the parts of ourselves that pull our attention away from zen
Because of this, the title, Zen & The Ephemeral is really brilliant, balancing these forces of order and chaos
The Kickstarter for the print edition was recently successfully funded!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
There is some adult language
Viewing on my phone made the text really blurry, to the point where it was very difficult to read
I have a fairly large phone (iPhone X), so I don't think it was a sizing issue, but enlarging the text only made it blurrier
Also, you may want to view the comic horizontally because of the page layout
Still could be my phone or apps, though the issue seemed to be a little worse on Webtoons than the Tapas app
Desktop is a little clearer, but not entirely crisp
It may help to enlarge your screen (to do this on a Mac, you can hit "⌘+")
Readers, please let me know if you're having similar issues!
Sometimes, the word balloon reading order can get confusing
A couple typos throughout
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It's a beautifully crafted ongoing webcomic that openly talks about mental health and wellbeing and cuts to the core of our humanity. Plus, it's free!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Falconhyrste by Melissa Capriglione & Clara W.
Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir & Steenz
If you like the art:
Homeward by Francis McNamee & Laurence Dea Dionne
Courtney Crumrin, Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh & Warren Wucinich
Wytches by Scott Snyder & Jock
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Laurence Dea Dionne – Cartoonist
Outlander: Is a Montreal native
Multitalented: Writes, illustrates, colors and letters many of her comics, and is also a teacher of art and wellbeing
Her writing tends to focus on mental health and wellbeing
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these options:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Laurence Dea Dionne characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Laurence Dea Dionne or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED