Written and Illustrated by Danie Stirling
Sometimes we readers get fatigued of fast-paced, complicated narratives with overwhelming art styles; I am one of those readers. Small Blessings is a webcomic that brings the magic to a familiar world and soothes the fatigue away. Self-published on the Webtoon App’s Discover platform, this delicate and sweet story spans over sixty chapters and can be devoured in one sitting.
The story primarily follows Alasdair, a house-spirit; I will use the word "sprite" as it's easier to distinguish between faerie creatures and other supernatural beings. This sprite makes the lives of the people living in an old building easier. Drawn in shades of black and grey, Alasdair is adorable to look at and almost monosyllabic in his day-to-day work. He uncoils the tangled cords, he finds the sugar sachet for someone’s morning tea, he battles the evil spirit that lingers in the dark that escalates the rotting of the fruits, he sings, he watches rainfall from the window, and he also falls in love with a house-plant sprite!
We progress through seasons which are divided into days and night. This aloof shy sprite makes new friends and finally befriends a human, named Alicia. Alicia is a tenant of this dilapidated building, who for the first few chapters pretends to not see Alasdair despite him sitting on her books. But they slowly bond over those books and learn how to communicate with each other. Alasdair also opens up to a super-friendly sprite of the aquarium who may be a tad bit too extroverted for the shy house sprite. Then we meet Malcolm, a wayfaring sprite who is not so trusting of the humans, but friendship makes them all bond over with each other.
What I loved most about the story is the use of these small and often overlooked moments and actions in our daily lives. Alasdair is not an all-caring and all-sacrificing sprite; he gets sad and angry too! My favourite moment is when he pours soda in one of the tenant’s shoes for the mess they created after a party. The theme of loneliness and self-care and the importance of silence is so well illustrated. Alicia is not always happy, she cries alone to sleep, and Alasdair understands her need to be alone. The comic would’ve easily worked as a silent comic too, as words are sparsely used and serve very specific purposes only.
The story also is about change, because this building that has been Alasdair’s entire world is under the threat of demolition. How scary must it be for a being that has never stepped outside to realize his world is going to crumble down? The expressions drawn are one of the finest I have come across in webcomics. The mischievous grin on the aquarium sprite, to her angry-pouting, the smug smile on Malcolm, Alicia’s kind and encouraging eyes, and the joyous face of the house-plant sprite are all amazingly illustrated. Though the colour scheme is grey and various shades of grey, this world is far from dull. I loved the occasional splashes of blue of the waves, and the red of apples, and the green of house-plants, that made the story even more magical and warm. The panels are linear and arranged vertically for scrolling, and it’s a job well done. It was a delightful read! Small Blessings is a must-read for people who want to relish the ‘feeling of awe.’
Read Small Blessings on Webtoon App