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Writer: Jamie Boyle

Illustrator: Helen Boyle Publisher: Blue Bolt Comics

The Life of Nill, page 1, self-published, Boyle/Boyle


A journey into darkness that fits firmly into the "hopepunk" genre.

It's like if Beauty and the Beast were a stageplay with no human characters and some JRPG elements. Or a strange lovechild between Miyazaki and a tragic, apocalyptic film, like The Road or Children of Men.

As of right now, it's at 80 pages, if you include the interim page.


(Minor Spoilers)

Two candles, Nill and Lueb, are messengers used to traveling between their city and others, journeying through the darkness.

Tired of the city life and its trappings, and wondering what’s beyond her home's light, Lueb wants more. She tells her tall friend, Nill, that while the darkness may be scary, it also hides all sorts of interesting things.

A natural rule-follower, Nill isn't swayed. He's comfortable and safe inside the light of the city. It doesn't help that when you leave your city to travel in the darkness when you're not supposed to, you have to burn your own wick to light your way. And there's no replacement wick. Many other candles have lost their way, never to be seen again.

But the call to adventure may be too strong for these candles. What will they find in the darkness? Will they discover a new land? Or is there only danger hidden in the shadows?


  • Not knowing what to expect from Jamie Boyle's writing or the story in general, I was surprised, even bewildered, by how much the story effected me

  • Because Jamie & Helen are siblings, they work really well together

  • The fact that it's just the two of them doing everything also brings a sense of cohesion, like everything is working in sync

  • For a great example of this, check out the image below: Helen's art shows the conversation, makes room for a lot of dialogue, and slowly, cinematically pushes in on Lueb's face while Jamie's lettering uses the background and Helen's panel layout to find solutions for tricky angles

  • Related to the previous bullet, Helen's visual storytelling abilities are on par with those of seasoned illustrators

  • The way she uses panel layout and design and perspective is highly effective and creates a tone for the story

  • It's cool seeing how different types of candles, from large ones in glass jars, to little tea lights, are anthropomorphized

  • Also fun to see with any comic where people have been working on it for years, usually as their first comic, is watching them define their skills, or style, or voice – something we definitely get to see in here

  • Because it's a webcomic, it's free!


  • Don't think this is some lighthearted adventure!

  • Folks just wanting a nice bedtime story for their kids may be surprised by The Life of Nill's depth of emotion

  • The story can take a few pages to really get the ball rolling, but trust me, it's worth it

  • It seems like it's still early on in the story, and I can't really tell where it's going, which I'd say is a plus, since it's not predictable

  • I may have missed it, but I don't think we learn Lueb is female until page 27

  • That being said, it doesn't have much bearing on the story – it's just surprising if your starting position for non-human characters is "male"

  • An extra space here or there could be cleaned up, but the rest of the story is clean from misspellings or grammatical errors

The Life of Nill, self-published, Boyle/Boyle


The Life of Nill is a novel take on the hero's journey from the point of view of a reluctant candle. The world-building and depth of emotion alone are reason enough to check it out. But, if you want my personal opinion? The Life of Nill is absolutely a must-read webcomic.


If you like the writing:

  • Mouse Guard by David Petersen & Becky Cloonan

  • WE3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

  • Isola by Karl Kerschl & Brenden Fletcher

If you like the art:

  • Fearscape by Ryan O'Sullivan & Andrea Mutti

  • Finality by Warren Ellis & Colleen Doran

  • Maus by Art Spiegelman


Jamie Boyle – Writer, Letterer

  • Dream Team: Worked on this comic together with his sister, Helen

  • New Face: This is his and Helen's first comic!

Helen Boyle – Illustrator, Colorist

  • She and Jamie have been working on this comic for nearly 4 years while also holding down full-time jobs

  • Outlander: They both live in Scotland


Click one of these:

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 Blue Bolt Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Blue Bolt Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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