Hello everyone ! Elias here, bringing you our first really explicit webcomic review. Well, the review isn’t explicit, but the “Familiar” comic is. Supernatural slice-of-life comic too. Does everything work? Read on, fellow webcomics travelers to find out!
Calendar: Chapters – Monthly
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
Just a warning, “Familiar” is an adults only comic, R18+, insert all emojis to demarcate minorsdon’t interact here as kids say these days. All of the fiery emojis that shine a light on what you shouldn’t do may be overselling this band’s sinister potential. It’s not that excessive after all. Author Soushiyo describes the series as “a slice-of-life comic about BDSM, magic, witches, and relationships. It’s primarily an erotic romance with kinky elements. If you like ‘Sunstone’ or ‘Fine Print”, you’ll be fine with that – the “Fine Print” comparison is more thematic than a content comparison as there haven’t been any tentacled fae creatures yet…yet.
The series follows Diana Vallejo, a busy book publisher in New York City. Diana, despite a regular gig, may have bought a little too much into the neocon millennial hustle mentality. This caused her to be dissatisfied in other aspects of her personal life. And it’s not just a setup oh she doesn’t get set up, Soushiyo lays the groundwork for how work-life imbalance robs her of rewarding personal experiences everywhere. This imbalance begins to be rectified after Diana accidentally summons Jack from another realm, they are the titular familiar. Jack is a familiar who specializes in soft domination and after entering into a contract, he enters into a contractual BDSM and eventually romantic relationship with Diana. Soushiyo treats fetish and kink, especially Diana’s submissive side, not as a need for degradation and show, but as a sort of mindfulness toolkit to let her stop worrying about work and let someone else take care of her.
Yes, shockingly, I know this naughty romance strip is character driven! But isn’t that always the best? Souchiyo’s plot really takes advantage of the series’ slice-of-life and contemporary elements. It feels like the last season of Congratulations in a good way, you could eliminate all the excitement and magic while still having sound and engaging character drama at play.
Now, you might not get that feeling if you only read the first chapter, 00, Soushiyo spreads it a little thick in the introductory chapter. It’s not a great portrayal of the show as a whole and it’s not meant to be, it’s set about a year in the future well into Diana and Jack’s relationship. All that fucking also leads to a hilarious cliffhanger that makes you want to read the next chapter. While there are consistent sensual and sexual segments and moods throughout, it’s usually closer to once per chapter and not 3-4 like in 00.
This series is divided into chapters of approximately 25-27 pages each, with each episode acting as a slice-of-life episode as Jack and Diana navigate what they want to do personally and together. On the archive page, the author has provided detailed content warnings of what will happen. The archive page is also the first sign that some chapters are tagged ‘X’, these chapters are more like fun sexcapade shots that fit the tone of chapter 00 more than the serialized narrative.
“Familiar” has plenty of plates it needs to balance character-driven drama and sexy fun times. Their art amazingly handles all of these tones and moods. You can feel the influence of manga on the art. That influence isn’t in terms of design – it doesn’t suddenly turn into an overly idealized Shōnen, Shojo, or any gonzo hentai of the day, in terms of art style. Their art style is simple comics influenced by Western depiction. Their page design is the kind of functional style you find in Archie Comics, there are several times when they use the page to make a larger artistic point, but they always go for what’s the easiest and most more effective in telling the story. The influence of manga manifests itself in the willingness to caricature and chibifi, if necessary, in order to bring out emotion or land a comedic beat. This tape is clearly funny, it has its absurd moments and then it just has dry humor. Even though the character wasn’t as strong, read it to see how the comedic beats were worth it.
Souchiyo’s other technical trick is that three-color palette they do everything in. Like their page design, it’s a good example of how minimalism can help spruce up linework or emotional pacing. This helps focus the page and allow it to never get too busy.
“Familiar” is just a well-done slice-of-life tape. If explicit content isn’t your jam, it’s still worth reading for the character work and character work process. If you’re looking for something explicit to read, you might just get hooked on the character work. Like most well-made porn, it’s not so much that it rises above its status, but shows how this aspect is on par with all other elements of the medium.