cover image Came a Harper (Fox and Willow #1)

Came a Harper (Fox and Willow #1)

Allison Pang and Irma “Aimo” Ahmed. Outland Entertainment, $19.99 (170p) ISBN 978-1-947659-65-0

First published as a webcomic, this playfully erotic but derivative fantasy series follows Willow, a runaway princess traveling with a talking fox who morphs into a saucy naked half-man when the two are alone. Willow stumbles upon a skeleton in the woods, with one bony hand clutching an engraved pendant. She scoops up the jewelry, then makes her way to the nearest village to seek help. There, the miller’s flirty daughter offers her a meal and a place to sleep in her family’s barn. When Willow uncovers a stash of hidden keepsakes, she begins to suspect that something more nefarious is motivating these seeming Samaritans. The hijinx that follow call to mind tragic British ballads: a swan, a ghost, a harp, and several murders crop up. There’s a goofy energy driving the proceedings, but the plot is thin, characters tend toward stereotype (there’s a sexy murderous miller and other generic evil sorts), and the artwork loops through confusing stylistic shifts, with deviations in coloring that feel more like the artist trying out techniques than necessarily serving the narrative. This comes off as feeling rushed from web to print. (Dec.)