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Eversummer Eve by Denise Jones, reviewed by Justin

Since Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is essentially a play about plays, it has a few things to say about how to set up a story. Eversummer Eve borrows a page from the Bard's tale, and its players make the story approachable – but it's Jones herself who pens an environment more elaborate than any of Shakespeare's stages.

Don't be fooled into thinking you've seen this before, however.

While Eversummer Eve contains Midsummer-based elements (ie. Puck, saytrs, a faerie kingdom), it's as different from the classic as The Princess Bride is from The Fellowship of the Ring. The story centers around the blessings and curses of magic, and what happens when magic is misused in our time.

The Eversummer Eve story is well-paced, and that makes it difficult to critique its ever-expanding plot. One gets a feeling that Jones still has a lot of tricks up her sleeve (even the titular "Eversummer" is explained only recently in the story), so the story as it stands is incomplete and leaves the reader wanting more. Since Jones writes an ongoing epic, this element is a testament to her storytelling skill.

Let it be said that Eversummer Eve has a lot of standard characters in it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (as Eric Clapton says, "It's in the way that you use it"), but still worth mentioning, as you'll likely recognize Final Fantasy archetypes as we go through the main cast. Griffin McBride is a plucky, passionate, yet slightly dim boy, with spiky hair and a mysterious, internal source of power. Griffin's older brother Alastair is a computer whiz who drifts alone. He's cursed in a living nightmare, haunted by his unfortunate past, with a streak of white hair to prove it. Libra Juliano is a pure-hearted maiden with "The Sight" – a psionic gift of sorts – who has taken over the mystic cafe left behind by her late uncle. Amadan is a magical, Puckish mischief-maker who looks a little like Elton John and Carmen Sandiego after a gene-splicing mishap. The wealthy, shady albino Juno Wintersmith is a ruthless businesswoman with an even more ruthless interest in magic.

As previously noted, it's fine to use archetypes if you can flesh them out, and Jones really puts the needed effort into doing this successfully. You can tell she spends time on the art and dialogue to capture the subtle nuances many other authors might not. Thus, we see the deeply-rooted animosity of Griffin towards Alistair, or the internal insecurity Libra has about taking on her uncle's job. Jones even injects some humor – A Midsummer Night's Dream was a romantic comedy, after all. The humor here is generally subtle, such as logos on t-shirts or signs off in the background – as well as the requisite anime Chibified panels. Amadan, however, is not subtle about his humor, as Amadan is not subtle about anything.

What can I say (or not say) about the art of Eversummer Eve? If "minimalist" means "using as little art as possible to convey a story or meaning", then Eversummer Eve should be considered "maximalist". Each crease in clothing is carefully drawn to convey the posture of the wearer, as well as the texture and weight of the fabric. Backgrounds are lavishly detailed, with careful attention to detail – down to the angle of the intricately shaded panels of stained glass windows. In short, Eversummer Eve is the comic you send to your naysayer friends who knock the art in webcomics to prove them wrong.

There's a lot of it to see, too. Jones is on her seventh chapter block, each block containing about 30 pages of story. (Note: be sure to read the story from the beginning - if you try to backtrack, it'll spoil some interesting plot twists.) It's a quick read, but each page is 125-160K, so set aside some loading time if you're on dialup.

As opposed to webcomics that take advantage of the medium, Eversummer Eve is the kind that would be suited just fine for print (and may be one day), but appears on the Web due to ease of distribution. We might as well catch up on Eversummer Eve while it's still free, since a print version will cost money. Even the Bard himself had to make a little bank, after all.