A troubled young man from the good ol’ US of A finds himself lost in a strange new world. Adventures, culture shocks, plot twists and drama ensue.
I’m surprised I have not read this comic sooner. It is a beautifully drawn and written comic, with much obvious hard work and care put into it.
So let’s break it down:
Heart of Keol draws the reader in almost immediately. Not simply because of the gorgeous artwork, but because of the massive amount of potential keiiii shoves at you in the first chapter. Keiiii does not waste time getting into the thick of things, quickly glossing over the necessary background for the main character (Ethan) and then kicking him right into the plot.
This plot takes place in a world connected to Earth by a Gate (giant teleporting worm hole …thing). Like most stories that revolve around a world unknown to the readers, there is some lag between continuing the plot and filling the main character/readers in with some background information. This lag in particular actually highlights the lack of information introduced earlier about Ethan’s past and who he is. If keiiii had taken the time to tell us all about Ethan before this, it would probably deter a lot of readers (not to mention the possibility of ruining a big part of the plot). Strategy is key when releasing large quantities of information, and keiiii understands that the majority of people get bored fast when bombarded with background knowledge.
Oh, how convenient it is that Ethan speaks a language that is used in the world he falls into! To be fair, it would suck to have to read about Ethan sitting around in a village for months on end just so he can understand what the people are lisping at him.
Aside from that, keiiii does a good job of separating the English language from the Korean. By colour coding the speech bubbles, readers can easily decipher which conversational tongue the characters are speaking in. To tie in with the separation of languages, is the intentional spelling and grammar mistakes. Obviously, Ethan is not completely fluent in Korean and the natives don’t speak quite the same version as what he knows. This creates some hiccups in the communication between characters, and offers an oddly refreshing view in the struggles of trying to get a point across in a language and culture you don’t quite understand. Plus, accents!
Aside from intentional spelling errors and grammar mistakes, the writing is very well done. Conversations flow smoothly from page to page, and information is released to the readers with direct purpose.
Heart of Keol also has some great humour thrown in that gets a chuckle out of you once in a while to help carry the heavy plot.
As for the art, I am pleased. Keiiii pays attention to detail in the backgrounds, enhancing the overall impression of the scene at hand.
The attention to detail is also expanded to the use of lighting. It can be difficult to capture the passage of time in a comic without actually writing it out, and lighting is an excellent source to take advantage of when you can. I think it is fair to say that keiiii definitely uses lighting when she can.
Angles also seem to be something keiiii is well-versed in. Some angles can be particularly difficult to create properly, oftentimes making characters look awkward. Heart of Keol utilizes angles in ways that complement movement and size, which has a massive impact if done properly.
An area that I was slightly disappointed in were the facial expressions. They were there, but not always to the extent where they reached the character’s eyes. The eyes are such an important factor when it comes into play with making a reader feel empathy or rage alongside a character. If the eyes are not part of the expression, the feelings can be lost on the reader. Most of the time this was not a problem, but every now and again there would be a scene where the eyes didn’t change enough to have a strong effect.
As for the panels, keiiii portrays them as brushstrokes. It is a classic design that compliments the overall art style. I do love the style used in Heart of Keol, but to be picky, the lines could be cleaner around the characters, especially around the hands.
Aside from the use of paneling, Heart of Keol destroys (in a good way) the Tapastic format. Keiiii takes advantage of the down scroll design by lengthening scenes and melting them into one another to create an epic use of space and movement.
I think it is pretty clear what my opinion is of Heart of Keol. This is a comic that anyone could fall in love with, not just because of the art, but because of the amount of thought keiiii puts into each page, and the plot as a whole.
Also check out keiiii’s DeviantArt page (there is a gorgeous background scene there from Heart of Keol).