Creator: Lacey (@byelacey)
Publisher: HiveWorks (@Hiveworks)
WHAT IS IT?
A lazy bum finds himself thrust into the world of the supernatural after a break-in at his apartment goes terribly wrong in this dark urban fantasy webcomic.
Think Shadowhunters meets Vampire: The Masquerade but super queer.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Lysander “Lys” Farrokh is always unemployed, frequently high, and spends his time bumming about his sister’s apartment rent-free in Toronto and annoying his best friend, Lorne. He’s recently been canoodling with his new neighbor, Simon, who works hard and seemingly non-stop at the local hospital. Though he's utterly directionless, life seemingly couldn't be better for Lys.
When he returns home one night, he finds an antlered stranger with an evil entity at his command in his kitchen. The supernatural intruder is looking for Simon, and Lys finds himself in the midst of a bloody fight because he just can’t keep his mouth shut. As plasma and knives fly freely, Lys discovers that his kind-hearted neighbor is actually a vampire. Worst yet, the entity that invaded his sister’s apartment has now made itself at home inside of his soul.
Lys is thrust into the world of seers, vampires, and dark entities. The wraith that has taken over his body is slowly turning him into a dark creature, one with horns and blackened eyes, and his once-simple life is forever changed. The monsters that live in the shadows are tired of the oppression and Lys has no choice but to embrace this new world the only way he knows how: with immense levels of sarcasm and vulgarities.
Lacey has taken the urban fantasy genre and given it a much-needed darkened twist – one that doesn’t dampen the magical aspects and both enhances and embraces the grittier side. It’s a mature spin that’s witty and unabashedly honest about life, relationships, and the hard topics that are often shoved to the shadows.
The black-and-white artwork is accented with pops of red whenever blood appears on panel. The darker tones fit the aesthetic, with rich blacks and detailed greys that highlight the fine details used in both the character designs and the environment.
Lacey has a masterful grip on expressions, especially with characters like Lys who perpetually looks annoyed, and Simon who always has a worried air about him. You can truly feel the emotions radiate off of the panels.
The sound effects have an almost graffiti-like look to them. The way they wrap around objects and lack consistency in size and shape really adds to the alt/urban style.
The lettering is easy to read and well-shaped for the size of the word bubbles and the proper usage of bolded and italicized words helps emphasize the tone of the conversations. The internal dialogue of the wraith is done in black, warbling bubbles with white text, adding to the ominous nature of the creature.
When you find a series such as this that needs to establish its own lore and versions of classic legends, oftentimes they find themselves becoming heavy on the exposition, but Lies Within handles these situations well. The moments of expositing are placed perfectly between scenes of bonding between the characters and well-crafted action sequences, making the lore all the more rewarding when presented.
The cast is immensely diverse, with a wide range of ethnicities, body types, genders and sexual orientations, including ones that are not as commonly seen but deserve the spotlight all the same, such as gay-aromantic and biromantic-asexual. It’s refreshing to see such diversity handled well and each character is immensely memorable.
It’s also refreshing to see Lys and Simon’s relationship dynamic being portrayed so normally without the pressure of it needing to be more than it is just because it's what readers expect. It highlights a much-needed perspective, reminding us that it's okay to not enjoy traditional romance and still be into someone and vibe with them on an intimate level.
I love the fact that Lacey decided to have Lysander shorten his name to Lys, which the character himself notes throughout the series is pronounced “Lies,” tying back into the title of the series.
The cast bios on the site are hysterical. They’re short, sweet, and to the point and give you a perfect heads-up of what to expect from each of the fun characters you'll meet throughout the story.
One of my favorite details is that the wraith is often shown as two simple white circles in darkness. It's an awesome way to portray its presence in a haunting and memorable manner.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Strong language, use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, strong violence, dark and disturbing imagery, adult situations, conversations about mental health, lots and lots of blood.
When typing in the web address to go to the comic's site, it will automatically default to the most recent page uploaded, which can often lead to spoilers for newcomers. It’s, of course, no fault of the creator’s, but it does merit mention and is a common issue with HiveWorks titles.
The lack of chapter-ending pages makes it feel like the sections go on forever, so it’s hard to find a breaking point if you’re binging through the series (which is exactly how I ended up nearly 200 pages deep before I realized what had happened).
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This debut webcomic from creator Lacey has been going on since mid-2017 and continues to get better and better with each new chapter and character introduction. Perfect for fans of urban fantasy titles who crave a bit more darkness in their narratives, Lies Within is an addicting title for every former emo kid who still relishes the angst and aesthetic. This webcomic is rich in lore and world-building, sassy and sharp in its writing, and filled with bloody brilliant illustrations. The cast is surprisingly human despite being so undead, and the raw, honest narrative is quite touching, making the supernatural elements and tense action feel all the more empowered.
The looming war between vampires and humans, the mystery of the wraith and utter emptiness within Lys, and the charming relationship between the two leads all make this title captivating and easily bingeable. Well-paced, self-aware and full of satisfying jabs at pop-culture takes on the supernatural, Lies Within is a fun and gripping LGBTQIA+ supernatural webcomic that you'll love to sink your teeth into.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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