Barbarous is another of the webcomics recommended by Sam Logan. It’s currently running on the Johnny Wander site. I tried going through the archives, and the really old strips are more kind of autobiographical sitcom one-shots. I jumped to the start of Barbarous, and that’s pretty much the part that kept my attention.
Chiaki Persephone (Percy) Mori – An impetuous magic user with a huge inferiority complex.
Leeds – A timid purple dragon-like familiar with super strength.
Cecilia – A beautiful woman with a gothic fashion sense, a strange sense of humor, and a skeleton for a right hand.
The basic story is that Percy is moving from place to place because she really can’t control her magic (kind of a series of colored strings around her wrist that can cast fire and do other things). She runs into Leeds while trying to stop a bag snatcher, and gets introduced to his employer, the landlord Cecilia. Leeds works as a superintendent (a super) at Cecilia’s apartment building complex, and Percy is hired initially to help with room repairs. The two get along badly as Percy tries to find different excuses to get herself fired so she can keep running away from herself. Eventually, we learn that Percy had attended the Academy (an elite magic users school) at her father’s insistence, and had dropped out.
In chapter 2, Percy hires on to help maintain Cecilia’s buildings, and immediately needs to cope with 3 very loud, very flighty female neighbors whose apartment is infested with mushrooms made of real magic. Percy uses one of her old textbooks to figure out how to eliminate the infestation, and overcomes the urge to use her magic to hurry up the job (a good decision). We get a bit of an introduction to her father (an overbearing authority figure that wants his daughter to get back into the Academy), and eventually Percy and Leeds bond a bit. Percy learns that Leeds is a familiar, and in chapter 3, she reads up on familiars – creating familiars in the U.S. is illegal and none have been created in the last century. So, either Cecilia is over 100 years old, or Leeds is an illegal. Percy then ends up cleaning a different apartment that turns out to be haunted, but that’s easily solved before the new tenants move in. The chapter ends with Percy debating whether to return to the Academy to complete the top-level “Pillar” program, then drinking too much and getting sick.
Actually, Is this what you wanted? seems to be running interleaved with Barbarous. ITWYW chapter 1 came out first (2016), followed by Bc1, then ITWYWc2, and Bc2 and Bc3. ITWYW starts with Fox, a man desperate to save one of his brothers, Kelly, by summoning a demon with the help of his younger brother, Ariel. Through a series of weird real life/MMORPG/dating website crossover references, a blue-skinned healing class female with really long hair shows up and saves Kelly. Additionally, she bonds to Ariel, and he names her Azalea. Chapter 1 ends at this point, with nothing explained and Azalea kind of at a lost for what to do next. In the subsequent character sketch filler pages, the brothers are given the last name “Price.”
In chapter 2, a month has gone by, Azalea’s been watching TV to learn about the human world, and Kelly’s gotten sick again. Fox is trying to find a new cure, and he sends Ariel and Azalea to what turns out to be an attempt to summon a blood-drinking demon. Some young guy has kidnapped a woman (Monica) that had been experimenting with dating websites in chapter 1, and he uses a bit of her blood to complete the summons. We get the text “Service Call: Destroyer Class”, followed by “Protocol breach, service call failure,” and the demon bonds with Monica while taking over the guy’s body. Ariel discovers Monica and forces Azalea to heal her, then the destroyer demon attempts to enter this world through the body of the summoner and to kill Ariel. Ariel demands that Azalea save him, which she does, and Ariel follows up with “I thought you were a healer.” Chapter 2 ends with Azalea asking if Fox really knows what he’s doing, and Ariel not wanting to question his brother. Over all, the artwork alternates between so-so and really, really good, but the writing and pacing are confusing. We’re missing backstory, and there’s nothing explaining how magic works in this universe in tandem with our commonly-accepted technology.
Over all, Is this what you wanted? has some promise, if only there were more backstory, or a fully-detailed cast page. The universe of Barbarous is a bit more fleshed out, but the artwork is more heavily influenced by a manga-silly style, although there are a few very well-drawn pages. Both are recommended if you’re really patient.