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The Webcomic Overlook #69: Sam & Lilah

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I wasn’t going to do another review this week, but, what the heck, Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Go on and rail how we’re being pawns of the Greeting Card industry or how it’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, let’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. Doesn’t that have Valentine’s written all over it?

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Sam & Lilah began life as a former Zuda contestant. It’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 “teenage.” I don’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, so…) It isn’t until the latter half of Chapter 1 that we’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. Sam’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, he’ll have one cupcake for him, and one for her. AWWWWW!!! Ain’t that sweet. However, at that fateful meeting over delicious pastries Lilah reveals that her full name is “Delilah,” and Sam, laughing, reveals his full name is “Samson.” Also, as luck would have it, Delilah’s a hairdresser, and Samson’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 Samson’s case … well, he hasn’t progressed to the stage of smacking down hooligan’s with an ass’ 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 must’ve been pretty enlightening … 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, I’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 — if we really wanted to get obscure — an Ehud the Left-Handed (power of stabbing fat monarchs with a vicious left jab!)

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The main attraction here is Park’s fanciful artwork. It’s clean and vaguely manga-like, but it definitely has a unique style. The world of Sam & Lilah is not grounded in reality, and it’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. She’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 he’s a bit of a meathead who’s not too bothered when the gypsy curse manages to give him some super strength. It’s true love! That said, it’s also rather nice. Maybe heart-breaking conflict is inevitable, but it is rather pleasant to read a webcomic romance that hasn’t yet devolved into the elevated drama levels of a Latin soap opera.

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Sam & Lilah strongly reminds me of Japanese seinen manga, most specifically Kosuke Fujishima’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, I’m half-way expecting that Lilah’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, I’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)

Posted in 3 Stars, all ages webcomic, romance webcomic, superheroes, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics