Writing - 8/10
Art - 7/10
Overall - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Writer: Rachel Cholst
Artist: Angela Boyle
Maturity Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Kickstarter/Indie comic
Release Date: Available Now
Artema follows the titular character as she leaves home as a disgraced warrior and seeks vengeance against a band of enemy soldiers.
LGBTQ+ Comic Artema Shows Its Big Heart
I’ve read all three issues of Artema and let me tell you, it’s got some chops. Created by writer Rachel Cholst and artist Angela Boyle, Artema follows the titular character as she leaves home as a disgraced warrior and seeks vengeance against a band of enemy soldiers. In issue two, Artema meets a group of people looking to cash in on her skills as a warrior, and they take her in as one of their own. Issue three finds Artema at a moral crossroads, as she struggles between her need for vengeance and her duty to her people.
Rachel Cholst spins a fantastic yarn in Artema as a whole, but especially in part three, “The Lover”. She creates a multi-faceted world with the Komai’i, the Chengol, and the troupe of marauders led by Boone. Her world expands the farther into the story you venture as a reader. In part three, we see a bit more of Artema’s past and her home life in Komai’i, including the possibility of a lover left behind. This humanizes Artema, so she’s more than just a warrior; now we know she has attachments, she’s left more than just a place where she used to live.
The non-linear narrative mirrors the beliefs of the Komai’i, which is just a genius piece of writing. The Komai’i believe in “history as a tangle, like a loop of string too long in your pocket.” Hence, a non-linear narrative to echo that prominent belief system.
In issues one and two, we learn who Artema is as a person, but we also switch back and forth between her present and her past self. Through these little glimpses of her past, we get to know why Artema is the way she is; what makes her so hot-headed; the lengths she’ll go to protect her people and work through her shame. She’s a complex character who is still hanging onto her guilt of being wounded in battle, of not being strong enough; she’s hanging onto that shame and using it to fuel her vengeance instead of addressing it head-on.
Angela Boyle’s art leaps off the page, inspires complicated emotions, and fits Cholst’s words to a T. Her use of a rope-like frame to indicate past experiences is a great touch that helps differentiate the times in a non-linear narrative. Her art style is consistent, and her design is smart and sharp; the architecture of Komai’i and the Chengol camps especially. Komai’i may be carved out of a mountain, but the design is fluid, more spiritual than the rigid structures of the Chengol.
Each character is unique in Artema, and there’s no fear of confusing them. It’s clear the character design was chosen deliberately and carefully, and they make for a great, diverse group, both in looks and in abilities. There’s a great fight scene in the third issue of Artema that depicts each character using their strengths to their advantage against a wave of Chengol soldiers; they each have different specialties that Boyle showcases in the scene, and it works well to differentiate the characters and let us get to know them a little bit more.
Artema is a short read with a lot of heart. There is obviously a lot of skill and love going into this series by Cholst and Boyle; I congratulate them on their fantastic efforts. They’ve created a series that explores trauma, found families, and self-acceptance, and they’ve done it respectfully, creatively, and intuitively. Everyone should read Artema, and explore their own levels of self-acceptance through this wonderful piece of work.
Rachel Cholst (Writer)
Rachel Cholst is a New York-based educator and activist. She also writes about alt-country and punk at her nationally-recognized blog and podcast, Adobe & Teardrops. She’d like to dedicate her first published comic to Pamela and Kyle, for giving her the push.
Angela Boyle (Artist)
Angela Boyle is a freelance illustrator, editor, and designer (flyingdodopublications.com). In 2016, she graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies. She runs the natural science comic anthology Awesome ‘Possum (itsopossum.tumblr.com). angelaboyle.flyingdodostudio.com
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