Writer/Artist: Savie Smith (@Black_Savvath)
Co-Writer: Brogan Chattin (@BroganChattin)
Publisher: Tapas (@tapas_app)
WHAT IS IT?
A Catholic priest and a nun find themselves falling in love and struggling with their faith in this slice-of-life series set in the 1960s.
Think Granchester meets Mad Men.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Father Luke is a bright-eyed priest living in the small town of Everton in the 1960s. Never one to waver in his faith, Luke serves the community and its people with a steadfast nature and kind heart. When asked to assist newcomer Sister Esther with her rowdy class, Luke finds this partnership stirring up strange new feelings and emotions. When tragedy strikes and Luke is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight as the head of the church, the pressure from within the holy walls and the expectant people of the town starts to overwhelm him.
As the casual working relationship between Sister Esther and Father Luke begins to deepen, rumors swirl around town and the expectations of the church starts to weigh heavy upon them both. The town of Everton is a place where everyone knows each other’s deepest secrets and the blossoming young love threatens to disrupt the holy image they are both desperate to uphold. Will the expectations of those around them prove to be too much? Or can their romance withstand the weight of their responsibilities?
Smith’s story, with the help of Chattin as co-author, is a timeless one that feels unique despite its simplicity. The cast is realistic and honest in their portrayals of not only the time period but the archetypes they fall into, and the narrative is approachable for a variety of readers, making it a touching, instant classic.
The illustrations in this series are incredible. Influenced by the styles of the decade it's set in, the rosy-cheeked cast of characters and beautiful color palettes feel right at home in the setting, giving it a retro-chic aesthetic that is whimsical and dreamy.
As is common with stories steeped in realism, the dialogue is a key player in what makes the webcomic come to life. The conversations are filled with emotion and the complexity of human nature, making it impossible for readers to not be drawn in and empathetic to their journeys.
The lettering choices really help heighten the emotions in the series. When characters speak with intensity or a frantic nature, you can definitely feel it in the almost rambling way the bubbles are filled, and the simple sound effects, which are rarely used, are appropriate for the tone and themes.
Smith and Chattin have taken great care to show the positive and negative sides, as well as the weight of the time period, for both the LGBTQ+ and Christian communities in this series. You can see a lot of extra time was put into the narrative to provide a realistic story that does not shy away from the heavier moments while still being respectful.
The cast of Lord Have Mercy is well written and developed. Even the minor characters are memorable and given time to shine. The ones that are portrayed in a manner meant to make you hate them are done so with fervor and the struggles they all face with the pull of faith, love, and human nature is clearly understood.
The eps. are broken up into a handful of pages, making each one a nice bite-sized read that is perfect for both binge reading and nice quick reads depending on your preference.
I love the period influences colors and style of the series. Everything from the outfits and hair to the home decor oozes Mad Men and it's a definite treat for the eyes.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Possible triggers for religious trauma for some readers, mature sexual themes and brief scenes of well-censored nudity, brief mentions of homophobia, mild language.
Some of the word bubbles can get a bit bloated. While stylistically they look nice, they do pack quite a bit of text into the small spaces and it can be a bit hard to read.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Recently picked up to be a Tapas Original title and put on the WUF (wait until free) program, this honest and touching series is an immensely appealing one that most anyone can pick up and enjoy. Fans of romance, slice-of-life, drama, and period piece stories will love Father Luke and his innocence, as well as Sister Esther's rebellious and curious nature. With its idyllic and quaint setting, realistic characters and struggles, and heavy emphasis on romance, Lord Have Mercy has a lot to offer.
Smith has a long-term goal to independently publish this series as a graphic novel and I, personally, can’t wait to see the beautiful series in print. The burgeoning relationship between Father Luke and Sister Esther has only just begun at this point in the series and it looks like we can expect quite a lengthy and touching webcomic that will leave us all gasping and aww-ing for the foreseeable future. You’ll definitely want to subscribe to this one!
HOW DO I READ IT?
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 Savie Smith characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Savie Smith or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED