Collecting the first chapters of Mei Lian Hoe’s webcomic series in print, My Husband is a Cultist is an offbeat romantic comedy that combines the amiable antics of its often bickering protagonists with the supernatural elements that define their day-to-day existences.
Much to the chagrin of his florist husband Kevin, warlock Bruce is part of a mystical cult. This perhaps would not be such a bad thing if it wasn’t for Bruce’s thoughtlessness, Forgetting, for example, to put down a tarp when summoning demons from beyond and leaving the living room carpet stained with blood. Or inviting the cult around for ritual ceremonies unannounced…
Hoe brings together two characters whose mismatched personalities mean they play off each other to strong comedic effect. Kevin is long-suffering but grumpy and sardonic, ensuring that while we understand his irritation we still have a certain amount of sympathy for the oblivious but rather likeable Bruce. Hoe’s comic timing and the bizarre situations they set up ensure this is a breezy and diverting read.
What is immediately noticeable within the pages of My Husband is a Cultist is Hoe’s adaptation of pure comics storytelling tools to their own narrative ends. Sound effects, for example, become a part of their comedic landscape, slipping through panels and snaking around characters. The three chapters here are full of examples of the iconography of comics being utilised to such effect: Kevin’s rage being echoed in his on-page heartbeat, magical text in speech balloons, and dialogue breaking free and swamping characters within panels.
My Husband is a Cultist is admittedly the work of an artist learning their craft and while characterisation and comedy pacing are assured there are occasional awkward shifts in transitions between scenes. Backgounds are also often sparse and, while this does ensure our attention is more focused on the characters themselves, it does become quite noticeable in places. Hoe, though, demonstrates a strong understanding of how to work the structure of the comics page to their advantage and this supernatural sitcom makes for an entertainingly escapist read. Bookmark that webcomic page link below!
Mei will be a guest artist at this week’s Gosh! Comics and Broken Frontier Drink and Draw on Thursday November 28th. More details here.