Webcomic Wednesday: Re: Grow

Review by Seán Donnelly

Created by Liam Naughton

Having been introduced to Liam Naughton’s stellar artwork in the comics compilation The Galway ARGH it was exciting to see his name associated with this week’s webcomic, Re:Grow, of which he was the architect in both writing and illustration. Hosted on tapas.io, Re:Grow tells the tale of a young surgeon who wakes up years after her supposed death. Badly scarred but still very much alive, her resurrection is hinted to be far more than a mere medical miracle. While currently on hiatus, the first two chapters are available for viewing and are very much worth your time. The plot moves along at a measured pace, sometimes foregoing dialogue in favour of pure visual storytelling that still packs an emotional wallop, not only because of the substance of the story but also the way in which it is presented. Its savvy structure not only gives the audience an opportunity to breathe following an action beat, but is sensible in its deployment of said beats (such as the end of the second chapter). Naughton’s style is noticeably manga-inspired, with great care and attention given to his backgrounds that lends them a concrete feeling of time and place, be they artificial (e.g. a clinical hospital setting) or organic (a wooded area). Aspect-to-aspect transitions, common in manga, are used to great effect to convey atmosphere, something Re:Grow has in spades. Naughton’s characters meanwhile have great appeal (to borrow an animation term) and are reminiscent of the great Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, Princess Knight) in their expressive eyes and distinctive facial features. The monochromatic artwork, coupled with deft linework by Naughton, heightens the mood considerably; crosshatching is common throughout and imbues the art with motion. Composition is also consistently strong, with dynamic use of angles and staging lending moments of emotion extra heft. In short Re:Grow is definitely worth your time, a comic whose storytelling is as invigorating as its art.