Independently Well Done highlights completed and/or noteworthy story-arcs published by indie and small press creators.
Written By; Tanya Bjork
Art By: Tanya Bjork
Published By: Tanya Njork
Being the huge nerd that I am, my love for things not pertaining to comics is somewhat vast. If you’ve read a few blog posts around here you won’t be surprised by my love of all things sci-fi. On more than one occasion I’ve referenced fantasy literature such as the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and many things pertaining to Forgotten Realms (love me some Drizzt). One such book series that captured my attention roughly twenty years ago was “His Dark Materials,” also famously known as “The Golden Compass series.” So, imagine my delight as I strolled through Wondercon 2016 and came across a comic series that mixes what I love about the Golden Compass, but adds a very interesting twist thus making it an original story. Havenhurst, by Tanya Bjork is so wonderfully done that I was legitimately upset I had’t heard of it before Wondercon.
What makes Havenhurst so good you may be asking? Well, for starters, the story is so well written that it was the first time, in a long time, that I took notice of just how well the pacing was done. Normally, for comics, or storytelling in general, pacing is everything. You can’t just hit the gas right off on the first page and never let up for the rest of your story. You will legitimately tire your reader to the point that it loses its affect. You also can’t ease up too much or you risk having the reader lose interest.
Pacing is often, for many storytellers, the most difficult thing to judge and achieve competently. There, at the very least, has to be a structure to the story. When done well, you never even notice it’s happening because the story feels so fluid and natural. When done badly, the reader is jarred out of the story thus breaking the immersion. Havenhurst was so well paced that I binged the four issues published thus far, and at the end realized that every page I had just read pushed me, propelled me, into the next. Each book left me at a place where I was satisfied with it as an issue, but left me desiring to read the next in a powerful way. It accomplished this so well, that when I put down the fourth, and latest issue, I was actually upset I have to wait for issue five now (for clarification, I was upset in every good way possible).
As for the story, Havenhurst is about a young girl with magical powers who’s fled her realm and now lives within our lame and boring non-magical world. Seriously, can’t we just get a little magic…does EVERYONE have to be a muggle? Anyway, it appears that life in the magical kingdom isn’t so whimsical, and basically sucks unless you’re rich or super powerful. It appears that the wonderful world of magic is so miserable that living somewhat vagrantly on Earth is better than going back. Her family however, isn’t all that happy about her new living choices, thus they’re pursuing her, somewhat aggressively, to bring her back to “where she belongs.” Our girl is having none of this, and will, reluctantly, fight in order to stay away from home, or more specifically, her mother. We haven’t been told where her father is in all of this mess, however, after issue four (very minor spoiler ahead) there’s some mystery surrounding good ole dad and his involvement thus far.
One other aspect of Havenhurst that enticed me into giving this series a try was how this entire comic came into being. One of the great advantages to discovering new comics at a convention is the ability to talk with the creators face-to-face. As such, I learned that Havenhurst was born out of a 24hr Comic Book Day, wherein, creators attempt to draw an entire comic over the course of one day.
To create, from start to finish, a comic in a single day is insanity. Luckily for all of us Tanya Bjork was up to the task, and not only was Havenhurst #1 born at such an event, it has lead to what will be a ten issue series. I just love the concept of this creative event. To have people create a comic over the course of a day, for no other reason than a love for their craft, is just inspiring and uplifting to me. So when you’re able to pick up and read a comic, brought to life under those conditions, there’s going to be something special about it.
That’s the feeling Havenhurst delivered for me. Within the pages of this comic, there was an underlying tone that Tanya Bjork loves to create comics. Behind the wonderfully woven story, I felt, lay hidden the passion of a creator desiring to bring something wonderful to life. In this writer’s opinion, she not only succeeded, but exceeded in doing so.