WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS NO MAJOR SPOILERS.
…I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY THIS IS HERE.
So here’s the deal: I asked my Twitter followers via a poll to decide which webcomic I should review first. I selected Harpy Gee by Brianne Drouhard and Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G. because they’re both excellent fantasy webcomics with radically different approaches, characters, and styles to subverting the cliches of the typical heroes journey. Both are absolutely worth your time but I simply can’t review them simultaneously (especially with the holidays upon us) so I asked my followers to decide which one to prioritize. With a whopping 77% of the vote, Harpy Gee beat out Cucumber Quest so it’s getting reviewed…right now!
Harpy Gee is a fantasy web comic series independently owned and created by Brianne Drouhard. She’s an artist working in the animation industry and she’s worked on such shows like Teen Titans, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, and most recently, Pig Goat Banana Cricket. Drouhard also designed, produced, and directed the super excellent Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld DC Nation shorts. For years, Drouhard tried pitching Harpy Gee (a play on the video game term “RPG”) to various animation studios but to no avail. She decided to turn her idea into a series of web comics which first launched on Dumm Comics in 2014.
The comic follows the titular elf girl warrior Gigi “Harpy” Geranium. Along with her companion Pumpkin, a goblin cat whose virtually bottomless stomach provides storage for Harpy’s gear, the pair embark on quests, meet new friends, and fight dangerous enemies. While walking through the forest, the duo get into a fight with a giant slime snail called Bloop Bloop. They defeat the creature but Harpy’s weapons including her sword get destroyed. With no weapons, food, or shelter from the coming rain, they head towards the po dunk town of Podunkello. They enter the local Item Shop and get acquainted with the store’s owner/witch Opal and immature castle guard/Item Shop tenant Ash. Immediately hitting it off with Opal, she offers Harpy a room (with potatoes, very important) for her in exchange for working in the shop.
On her first day, she encounters a bunch of spoiled brats who resemble JRPG heroes, a creep in a costume who buys all the sleeping potions, and the pessimistic Prince Humphrey who’s trying to sell his uncle’s dog Peepers. He’s new in town and his uncle, the Duke of Podunkello is throwing a Birthday party for Peepers. Humphrey is bored and doesn’t care about such small town frivolities but Harpy successfully persuades Humphrey to reconsider. He gives invitations to the birthday party that evening for her, Opal, and Ash. From there, the adventures between these fast friends truly begins.
Chapter One does a good job introducing the reader into the world thanks to its likable inhabitants. Each page is filled with humor, charm, references to Japanese role playing games, and giant monsters. All of the characters and their animal friends are well defined each with their own motivations and secrets. Chapter Two flashes back to the beginning of Harpy and Pumpkin’s friendship then flashing back to Humphrey’s time before moving to Podunkello. It’s engaging to these characters backstories fleshed out and the revelations characters discover lay the seeds for future story arcs. Chapter Three (which as of this writing is still ongoing) heralds another adventure for the Item Shop friends but with a twist. Harpy and Opal go off into the forrest while Ash and Humphrey stay in the Duke’s castle repairing the damage done from the previous night. Some shocking revelations have occurred which I dare not spoil but suffice it to say, this is the best written chapter in the series (so far).
As you may have noticed from the multitude of images in this review, the art style is quite charming and striking. The color palette is distinct with soft colors making the proceedings feel lively while darker ones convey a sense of dread and seriousness. Onomatopoeia’s are often literal (pretty sure “land” isn’t a sound) but do their job of conveying audible oddities to the reader. Character designs are simple and on occasion, very adorable but they all benefit from being able to convey a wide range of expressions. My one complaint with the visuals is that the lettering feels like an afterthought in contrast to the art. Aside from the occasional typo, small panels end up creating even smaller balloons with squished and less than legible sentences. It’s not a deal breaker considering how great the rest of the art is but it is noticeable when reading.
A new installment of the comic is updated every Monday on Dumm Comics and earlier on the official Harpy Gee website hosted by Hiveworks. Updates can vary in the amount of pages as Harpy Gee is made on Drouhard’s spare time. Non-Continuity comics written and drawn by Drouhard’s friends (such as the panels down below by Joshua Perez) but make no mistake, Harpy Gee is Drouhard’s brainchild and pages are only made by her.
Overall, Harpy Gee is an excellent web comic worth checking out. While the vibrant art style is the highlight of the series, there’s something to be said about the instantly likable characters and their zany adventures keep you invested week after week. It’s a shame this was never made into a cartoon because it feels like something that could easily hit the airwaves. But it would seem “the powers that be” lacked Drouhard’s vision, ambition, and skills to make something this magical exist.