My new cover proof is just about done; I had to swap out the author photograph, as the one I had originally sent in had me looking as if I were on the edge of a psychotic break. The physical proof is winging its way to me, and I will soon be able, I think, to make Medousa available once more.
As I believe I have noted before, I will be needing to spend a lot more time and energy on promotion, if I expect any success. Although I Had originally planned to take the rewrite back to find a traditional publisher, a friend of a friend, who once made a passable living as a novelist prior to 2008, convinced me to simply self-publish again. More on that in another post.
Meanwhile, I had turned my attention to a project that I have been kicking around for a few years, Liannan Sidhe. A Liannan Sidhe, or “Faerie Lover,” is an Irish faerie that takes a human lover, and while possessing him, drains away his life essence until he dies many years earlier than he ought. But while in her power, the victim becomes prodigious in the quality and volume of his art. This particular spirit tends to choose artists over other types of human.
Anyway, it had begun when an old and dear friend wanted me to write a sexy urban fantasy, and base the protagonist on her. I had a vague idea of what to do with the story, and indeed, had ideas for a series. When I began sharing my progress with her, however, she wasn’t really keen on the sex that I had written into the story. I never got a clear answer as to what she would like to see, and so when I returned to the book, I tried to take the sex out, and replace it with sensuality. I was told “It’s a bit pervy….”
Obviously, I have no talent for erotica.
And this now smoothly brings us to the review of a ‘book’ that I’d like to share.
It’s not really a book, actually, but a webcomic. However, it is a work that I believe really deserves a graphic novel format. The series is entitled Alfie, and is written and drawn by erotic artist InCase.
What really impresses me about this comic is the skill with which InCase is able to combine the most outrageous erotica with equally compelling characters and world building. Although there is plenty of hardcore porn in the comic, the characters who engage in it have believable, and even sympathetic, motivations. And the porn is not simply tacked on, but results from the characters interactions and personal histories, and serves to advance the plot of the story, while revealing more about the inner lives of the characters so engaged.
That said, the world is fascinating enough, and the characters so memorable, that even without the sex, it is a compelling read. While it is, in essence, a sex comic, in reality, it is far more than just that. And again, I am slightly in awe of, and jealous of, InCase’s skill as a storyteller for being able to knit these seemingly disparate elements together.
The setting is a world in the High Fantasy idiom. Elves, humans, halflings, “goat people” (Voch’Khari), and an inspired array of strange flora and fauna.
Alfanea Tolman, or Alfie, as she is commonly known, is the titular protagonist of the comic. She is a young Havlin woman (humans constantly, mistakenly, and insultingly, refer to them as ‘Halflings’) who has grown up in the frankly parochial village of Pickering. Within Alfie’s circle are her parents, Derik and Vera Tolman (nee Vera Brooker), her best friend Melinda (Melly, for short), and later on, Marco and Lydia, two humans, and then Ozge, a Voch’Khari woman. The story begins with the arrival of a trade caravan, comprising humans and elves.
From the first page, we see Alfie catching her friend Melly in flagrante delicto with one of the human guards of the caravan. She is caught spying on her friend by Marco, another caravan guard who later comes to be a friend (with benefits) to our heroine. As the first chapter progresses, we learn that Alfie and Melly have been best friends for a long time, and that Melly has a reputation as a “naughty girl,” though no one would ever suspect her of anything truly improper. Indeed, Alfie is at first furious, because Melly is married. However, Melly arranges for Alfie to become better acquainted with Marco.
We meet Alfie’s mother Vera, a leather worker and cobbler. She is known throughout the village for her exquisite workmanship, but she is also the town harridan, widely disliked and avoided for her foul temper and bitter attitude. We see there is some conflict between Vera and her daughter. She tries to be tough with Alfie, wanting her to ‘grow up,’ and either seriously take up work, or find a husband. But deep down, she is ready to commit murder upon anyone who might so much as make Alfie unhappy. Neither mother nor daughter truly understand one another. Not surprising, as they seem to find it difficult to really talk together, with open hearts.
Vera taught Alfie how to read, and brought her up reading from adventure books and telling her tales about the outside world, beyond Havlin lands. As we come to see, this kindles within Alfie a certain wanderlust. She wants to go forth beyond the limited horizons of her home village and see something of the world. Little does she know that her mother, Vera, did just that when she was her daughter’s age.
Vera, we come to know, was quite happy with the life of adventure, wandering as widely as she could, acquiring great skill with a crossbow, and learning to read and write in several languages other than Havlin. In her youth, however, she fell in love with Derik, and became pregnant by him, and felt that she had to stay now in Pickering for the sake of her family. She truly hates living in such a stultifying and staid little place, but even more than that, she loves her daughter, and is willing to make almost any sacrifice for her.
Complicating things for Vera was her husband’s discovery of his own homosexuality. While he now considers Vera as a best friend, he has his own lover. Vera does not understand, this particular bit of prejudice against ‘deviancy’ something that she has picked up from the culture around her, despite her true free-spirited nature. She feels deeply betrayed, because she loves Derik, and wants him to love and desire her. but he cannot love her the way she wants him to. And yet, because of him, and their daughter, she gave up her own desires and dreams many years ago.
Vera is approached by the elf who commissioned the caravan, Ailduin. He has heard of the quality of Vera’s leather work, and wants to commission her to create various bits of bondage gear (though he won’t tell her at first what the pieces are for). Vera falls into an affair of sorts with Ailduin, in part to relieve her boredom, and in part, to spite her husband, thinking to pay ‘betrayal’ with betrayal.
Alfie, her affair with Marco in full swing, is becoming distracted during the day with erotic daydreams and reveries. Her mother simply sees her as being absent minded and overly-distracted. She wants Alfie to sort herself out, not suspecting what’s going on with her and the handsome caravan guard, thinking of her daughter’s ultimate happiness.
Alfie, however, in addition to carrying on with her human lover, begins to discover something else about her own sexuality—she is attracted to women as well as men. Far from embracing it, it frightens her, and makes her miserable. Alfie begins to feel that, not only can she do nothing right, but that she herself is not ‘right’ because of her desires. She feels guilty for wanting to travel abroad and see the world. She feels guilty for wanting to experiment with other women.
And all the while, tragically, neither Vera, nor Alfie, nor again, even Derik, knows what’s going on with one another.
I won’t spoil any more of the story; you really should go read it for yourself. It is masterfully wrought, and well worth your time. That said, be warned that this is, after all, a sex comic, and so will not be suitable for the under-sixteen crowd. Or, under-eighteens, depending where you live.
Currently, Alfie is on hiatus, as the author is taking a break in order to refresh himself and work on other projects. He assures his audience that the rest of the work is plotted out, and that we are only at about the halfway mark. As of this review, he may take up the story once more in a couple of months—so do keep checking in. In the meantime, this is the perfect opportunity to check out Alfie and get caught up on the story thus far.
You can read it at: http://buttsmithy.com/
This is the author’s Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/InCaseArt/posts
Here is the author’s Tumblr account: http://incaseart.tumblr.com/
And here is InCase’s Twitter channel: https://twitter.com/InCaseArt