It’s actually a little difficult to express in words how wonderful and affecting Asher’s Zebadiah is. It’s not just the art, though it is breathtaking. Asher’s artistic style recalls rough-but-intricate woodblock etchings and works equally well at depicting the deep woods of Appalachia and modern-day Portland, Oregon. Every character’s face, even (especially) the animals’, is infinitely expressive and intimately human. The religious iconography, ethereal supernatural entities, and visually referential characters blend seamlessly into the narrative to create a world that feels both rooted in very specific, portentous periods and, paradoxically, timeless. It’s this amazing art in conjunction with a truly brilliant story, though, that makes Zebadiah such an incredible creative achievement that has won the adoration of everyone I know who’s read it. Asher takes two stories–that of Zebadiah and Eula-Lee, a reclusive couple living in the Appalachians in the 1970s, and that of (somewhat fictionalized versions of) Asher and, later, his wife Lillie in the present day–and weaves them together with an overarching narrative that explores the intersection between rural and urban lifestyles, separated souls, Asher’s character’s trans experience, damnation versus salvation, and (most importantly) eternal love.
On top of it all: ANTHROPOMORPHIC GUARDIAN POSSUMS (possibly some relative of the Grumplords?!).
To say too much more is to deprive you of your own experience with the story, but trust me: you will feel changed after you finish reading it. It is a perfect example of everything a great comic should be; it hurts your heart, it’s so good. Read it today, and don’t forget to pick up Asher’s contribution to our upcoming Sparkplug Minis series, due out on February 16th at LA Zine Fest–his will be the inaugural issue, and it’s a modern tale of Baba Yaga. You’re going to love it.