The Alchemist of Aurillia

Parts 1 and 2

Art and story by Melissa Massey.

I reviewed her Black Ball comic April last year and was very much entertained by Melissa's use of color and light expressions in her character's faces.

These two comics however are done in black and white. The expressions and treatment of the characters remain the same. Things are generally light and gentle in their creation. Nuriye is a Wizard-in-training trying out new spells and incantations. She's succeeded in creating a small spirit, a familiar named Shale. Shale is comprised of the flickering light from a lantern, and as such contains a small modicum of magic. Nuriye is too eager to learn bigger spells and incantations, and against her teacher's advice reads too much and practices too little.

Trouble comes.

There is trouble brewing in the palace as a harem girl has been killed by some monster. Aiza, a princess from a far off country has come to speak to the Sultan. She and Nuriye confront an evil genie spirit who has teamed up with a Dervish, cleverly drawn as a ghost-like sheet with a mask, waving two sharp swords.

There's also a hidden back story involving a dark room with a chained door. The Sultan and Nuriye's teacher Master Ekber want to keep this place a secret. Part 1 ends with a battle between Nuriye and the monster committing the murders (it also took out some guards).

A gentle approach.

All in all Melissa's imagination has encapsulated a fascinating look into a magical world. The story proceeds with good clarity and an even-handed approach. Where she could use some more skill (and I'm sure this comes over time) is in the level of her artistic craft. Black Ball also had a sense of naiveté in its approach, but was bolstered by Melissa's masterful use of color. Here, in black and white I can see the areas where the artistic level could be improved.

To stay with cute?

Another problem I have is the introduction of extreme violence in this story. It's not blended in well. Everything about The Alchemist of Aurillia looks and feels Young Adult level. Not to say there isn't a place for life-and-death moments to exist in those kinds of stories. From the get-go, Harry Potter showed us some pretty harrowing scenes. There the violence was implied but not shown. Alchemist has one or two weird 'splat' effects in black ink meant to be bloodshed in a few minor panels here and there. To me that seems out of place, or else Melissa needed to ramp up the seriousness and edit out the cuteness.

I was very entertained by these stories. I hope the next comics Mellissa Massey creates will be in full color, I miss it!

Next Tuesday:

another Frank Martin written story, this time a post-apocalyptic showdown called The Truce

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