As anyone who has read my blog for long enough can tell, I am a firm proponent of representing the struggles of mental health in stories and media. I try to do it myself and I’m always looking for other media that does it as well. When someone I follow on twitter re-tweeted another comic author/artist and added a comment that this other author/artist did an amazing job representing mental health in her comic, I felt inclined to check it out. As always happens, I wound up not actually doing that for almost a month. I followed the author/artists on twitter and then promptly forget about the comic I was supposed to start reading. That was a huge mistake and I regret it immensely.
Daughter of the Lilies (link to page 1, so don’t worry about spoilers), by Meg Syverud, is an amazing webcomic about self-doubt, depression, anxiety, and religious themes cleverly hidden in a comic about fighting monsters in an epic fantasy world. The religious themes are cleverly-hidden and the mental-health ones are part of the main themes for each chapter as we follow the story of the protagonist, Thistle, when she looks for work with a local mercenary group. There is some gore and some uncomfortable moments the author/artist handles well (with warnings and obfuscated pages that require you to click to see), but the amazing story and excellent characters make it worth it. The religious themes are not yet fully explored and are more along the lines of a more subtle Narnia than the sort of “in-your-face” version seen in most Christian rock. Honestly, unless you read the blog posts under each page or know a lot about Christianity (well, as much as a general practitioner of a Christian faith would know), you might miss the references entirely.
I sat down to just check it out after seeing a few more recent shares on twitter and subsequently forgot about everything else I was going to do that night. It is so good! I came in at the perfect time. Since the beginning of the comic, the protagonist’s face was hidden. There were hints, but the most popular thing for fans to do was to theorize about what she looked like. The day I started reading was the day her face was finally shown. I was able to read through all of the that the author/artist had spent the last few years creating, enjoying the drama of not understanding her identity, before finally seeing it once I’d caught up. I immediately went to support her on Patreon because I want this comic to update daily and storytelling as wonderful as this deserves as much support as I can give it.
This comic has pretty much everything you could want and does such a good job of creating a world that I might be copying some of the stuff I’ve read here for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. The mercenary leader actually has paperwork to do, to register the protagonist as an official part of his team and it looks just as confusing as tax forms! The logistics of the world are incredible. It is firmly grounded in the typical fantasy world, but it moved the time forward a couple hundred years, so you have more of a “renaissance” feeling instead of a “peasants farming dirt near a castle” feeling. The orcs can be friendly, the racial designs are great, and everything is so colorful! The clothes are probably one of my favorite visual details since almost everyone wears them and they’re so incredible to look at.
I went to go look up some stuff for more to write about and accidentally re-read the entire comic. Whoops. There’s just too much that’s wonderful about this comic for me to try to chop it down into a review. I suggest you read it for yourself. You’ll understand, then.