Webcomic Wednesday: A Dark Matter

Reviewed by Seán Donnelly

Created by Nate Jammet

Cosmic horror has seen something of an upswing in recent times. The fear of the unknown that features in the works of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft has gained a newfound relevance. Given the strange times that we live in, this should probably be expected. However, with a rise in a genre’s popularity there is an interest in playing around with the genre’s typical tropes and expectations, up to and including meshing with other genres to create a fresh experience.

Enter Nate Jammet’s A Dark Matter, which blends a cosmic horror aesthetic with a family drama. The webcomic stars siblings Millicent and Lancelot, who are immortal beings infused with developing souls. The comic itself details their journey through history, beginning in 19th century Europe right up until 2005. The comic opens with Millicent and Lancelot repairing their relationship, but Millicent has a plan that cuts the reunion short. What is that plan? You’ll have to read to find out. Along the way the pair encounter a young girl known as Kired, whom the misanthropic Lancelot takes a liking to (his more wicked sister takes more time to warm up to the child). The scope of its premise is balanced out by the strip’s emotional heart, which is the relationship between Lancelot and Kired, making for an unusual but endearing familial relationship.

A Dark Matter is a striking work and it is clear within its opening pages that it is no ordinary work. The strip is coloured entirely in monochrome, which works to solidify its gothic atmosphere. This is especially apparent in its use of silhouette and how characters contrast with their surroundings, which highlights another virtue of the strip’s art: its character design. Millicent and Lancelot contrast with Kired not just in personality but in construction. The siblings’ bodies are made up of geometric shapes and long, lanky limbs that make them more akin to skeletons than people; both resemble characters as seen in the films of Tim Burton and Henry Selleck, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Kired is decidedly more organic and rounded, making the dissonance between her and the siblings all the pronounced, and Lancelot’s kindness to her even more effective.

Nate Jammet has created a promising work that effortlessly blends art and story to create a captivating, often dream-like world full of memorable characters. A Dark Matter’s presentation is to be commended, and it is tantalizing to see where this story may go in future.