Words have power. That is the underlying theme of the comic, Word Smith, another independent project that I stumbled upon on Kickstarter that hails from Australia. Created and written by Stephen Kok, illustrated by P.R. Dedelis, and with colors by Peyton Freeman, it is an all-ages fantasy Steampunk comic with a well-meaning, yet somewhat naive, protagonist named Victoria and her mischievous pet dragon, Sparky.
A word smith is a person who has the magical ability to imbue a word with enough power that whatever meaning it has affects whomever it is meant for on a deep, emotional level. When Victoria, the local word smith, is hired by a local baker to produce a word to inspire her dispirited husband, the word she chooses has unexpected results; he leaves his wife. Desperate to save the marriage she destroyed, Victoria chooses a new word to convince the husband to return, but he has already left town. Now, Victoria must track him down to fix the damage she has done.
The art and coloring are pitch perfect for this kind of project, and I find Victoria and her pet dragon to be adorable. I found the premise to be delightful which is what drew me to back the project in the first place; however, the writer could have upped the conflict quite a bit and made it harder for Victoria to reach her goal by adding an antagonist. As written, there is really only one major conflict, and it has nothing to do with the main character. Victoria achieved her goal too easily, and, as a reader, I never felt any tension. I realize this is written for children, but conflict works on many levels. I also felt the writer lost a number of opportunities to explore how this power affects Victoria on a personal level. How did she get it? This is such a powerful ability. Wouldn’t someone or something want to control or stop it? What is her place in this society? Is magic the norm? And if yes, who has it and who doesn’t? There are many other unanswered questions I would love to know the answer to.
I love this concept, and I think it has enormous potential. It’s just the type of story I know many people would love. I truly hope we see more of Victoria and Sparky and learn more about their world.