Lavender Jack by Dan Schkade (Writer/Illustrator) with Jen Manley Lee (Colorist.)
Comics come in multiple forms, namely among them: webcomics. Webcomics are sequential art that are published online; either self-published or on a collective digital medium. Currently there are various digital platforms that are coming up to publish webcomics. Line Webtoon is an international extension of Naver Webtoon, a popular webcomics reading app in South Korea. The Webtoon app is the Netflix of digital-comics publications. All one has to do is download the app and read comics for free. There are two types of creators on webtoon:the Originals who write exclusively for and have featured comics webtoon comics, and Canvas/Discover creators who use the app as an platform to self-publish.
Lavender Jack is set in an alternate universe in the early 1900s, where the mayor of the city-state Gallery appoints one of the greatest detectives in the world Madam Theresa Ferrier to investigate the case of a masked vigilante. The masked vigilante snaps his fingers and things explode! Meanwhile, he is exposing corruption of the stakeholders of the city. His name comes from the scent of his crime scenes.
Madame Ferrier is arrives with her wife to the city to solve a petty masked crime, but soon she gets roped in a murder case that eventually becomes multiple murder cases. From personal betrayals to scheming industrialist, the story becomes a delightful tale of deceit.
Lavender Jack is also refreshing as it addresses much needed diversity in character sketching. The diversity is a natural feature of this city-state rather an act of tokenism. We have varied characters of different races, gender. and sexual orientation. Dan Schkade has built a world where women in Georgian gowns are running presses and asking questions, and making machines that can think, and are also either masked criminals or detectives.
The most enjoyable part of the story is the politics of the Gallery. This beautiful city of wonder has shady puppeteers. The city-state is divided between the rich and the poor, and under the guise of charity and development the poor are being duped. Like the infamous lizards of Wall Street, these chosen rich and ruthless will do anything to keep their wealth and position intact. Our antagonist of the first arc is mentioned in the early chapters, orchestrating brutal and smart murder plans, and executing them to almost perfection, without ever dirtying their hand.
Art is the strongest suit of this story, drawing for medium that needs to be scrolled instead of flipped or swiped. The webtoon format challenges the standard use of panels and gutter space. Establishing shot or panel of the city that merged with the casebook of Madame Ferrier’s was all it took for me to become a fan of this story. The line art is one of the cleanest I have come across, with interesting choices for speech bubbles and lettering for Lavender Jack. And this world is built on details, each piece of sketch adds to the overall story. Jenn Manley Lee has made this unique world of period setting very familiar with her colouring. Her use of light and shadow is amazing and best expressed in shades of violent red. I also loved the part where Dan Schkade used the fan arts in the story to enhance the legend of Lavender Jack among the masses.
Not much of the major mystery gets solved in this season, but many more are kept unsolved that serve as the promising beginning to next season. I am looking forward to next season as some of the key players and characters have departed, and governors of the Gallery are not happy about the change that has been forced on them. In their quest for vengeance Lavender Jack has more enemies to face.