The Webcomic Overlook #69: Sam & Lilah
Submitted by El Santo on February 10, 2009 - 14:28
I wasnâ€™t going to do another review this week, but, what the heck, Valentineâ€™s Day is this weekend. Go on and rail how weâ€™re being pawns of the Greeting Card industry or how itâ€™s totally unfair to single people. The Webcomic Overlook enjoys all the holidays, real or manufactured. Yes, behind the menacing luchadore facade, El Santo is a big old softie who gets calorie busting treats for his lady on the Holy Holiday celebrating a brutally murdered saint.
So, to celebrate, letâ€™s take a trip back to our friends at Act-I-Vate and take a looksee at a cute little comic called Sam & Lilah, written by Jim Dougan and illustrated by Hyeondo Park. I mean, look at the picture below. Doesnâ€™t that have Valentineâ€™s written all over it?
Sam & Lilah began life as a former Zuda contestant. Itâ€™s regrettable that it got voted off the island, but understandable. The first eight pages, which Zuda comics are judged by, are remarkable mainly for their artwork. The story being set-up seems like a romance better suited for teenage girls who used to be into unicorns but now are way into sparkly vampires. (And yes, emphasis on â€œteenage.â€ I donâ€™t know if female readers past the high school age would embrace the intro, either. But then again, those same ladies seem to have embraced Harry Potter and Twilight, soâ€¦) It isnâ€™t until the latter half of Chapter 1 that weâ€™re thrown a twist that makes the entire endeavor worthwhile.
Our title characters are two attractive twenty-somethings living in the big city. And like any romantic comedy, we begin the story wtih a meet cute. Samâ€™s been checking out Lilah as she orders pastries at a local bakery. He takes the last cupcake, which Lilah reprimands him as bad luck. Sam says that if they meet later, heâ€™ll have one cupcake for him, and one for her. AWWWWW!!! Ainâ€™t that sweet. However, at that fateful meeting over delicious pastries Lilah reveals that her full name is â€œDelilah,â€ and Sam, laughing, reveals his full name is â€œSamson.â€ Also, as luck would have it, Delilahâ€™s a hairdresser, and Samsonâ€™s a gym rat.
This cannot end good.
You see, Lilah was given a gypsy curse that causes her to impart powers to a person based on their name. In Samsonâ€™s case â€¦ well, he hasnâ€™t progressed to the stage of smacking down hooliganâ€™s with an assâ€™ jawbone yet, be he is able to benchpress cars when his hair gets unruly. She quips that she once dated a lad named Jesus, which we imagine mustâ€™ve been pretty enlightening â€¦ and horrifying, if her fingering of her wrists is any indicator. This opens up an interesting realm of possibilities: will the rest of Sam & Lilah deal with her running into epically named folk? Since we might be sticking to Biblical characters, Iâ€™d like to see a Solomon (power of wisdom!), a Moses (power of summoning the ten plagues!), a Gabriel (power of flight and smooth talking to virgins!), or â€” if we really wanted to get obscure â€” an Ehud the Left-Handed (power of stabbing fat monarchs with a vicious left jab!)
The main attraction here is Parkâ€™s fanciful artwork. Itâ€™s clean and vaguely manga-like, but it definitely has a unique style. The world of Sam & Lilah is not grounded in reality, and itâ€™s reflected in the whimsical illustrations. Arrows, icons like battery meters, and other sorts of simple symbols pop up in the background. The bright and washed-out colors give the comic light, magical feel where, at any moment, you expect swirls of cherry blossom petals to appear out of thin air. The only misstep I could think of is with Lilah. Her face looks oddly malleable. Sheâ€™s a quite in some panels, but rather unattractive in others.
The story is sweet, if unremarkable and sorta shallow thus far. Sam likes Lilah for barely more than her looks (and a bit of curiosity about her powers). Lilah, on the other hand, likes Sam because heâ€™s a bit of a meathead whoâ€™s not too bothered when the gypsy curse manages to give him some super strength. Itâ€™s true love! That said, itâ€™s also rather nice. Maybe heart-breaking conflict is inevitable, but it is rather pleasant to read a webcomic romance that hasnâ€™t yet devolved into the elevated drama levels of a Latin soap opera.
Sam & Lilah strongly reminds me of Japanese seinen manga, most specifically Kosuke Fujishimaâ€™s Ah! My Goddess series. It has similarities in the sweet, pleasant pace, the wispy art, and the repurposing legendary figures as modern day characters. In fact, Iâ€™m half-way expecting that Lilahâ€™s two meddlesome sisters will show up in future issues.
I should let you know that I was never a big a fan of Ah! My Goddess. To airy for me, if that makes any sense. Similarly, Iâ€™m not that hooked on Sam & Lilah either. However, I do recognize that there are strong qualities in both. Ah! My Goddess found its audience. Hopefully Sam & Lilah will do the same.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)