Review: 100 Demon Dialogues

100 Demon DialoguesThe fact that I backed Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues on Kickstarter probably gives you an idea of what I think about this book. But if you want to know exactly why I supported this project, read on.

Summary

In 2017, cartoonist Lucy Bellwood’s set out to complete her second 100 Day Project. This time, she would return to a concept she’d dabbled with since beginning full-time work as a freelance cartoonist: a tiny demon embodying her doubts and concerns about life and career. Over the course of three months, she illustrated a series of comics starring herself and this demon, each comic shedding more light on the relationship between the two.

100 Demon Dialogues collects these comics and pays homage to the community that sprung from Bellwood’s project.

Let’s Get Into It…

I followed #100DemonDialogues on Instagram and fell in love with Bellwood’s art and story-telling abilities. When Bellwood announced that she would make a book, I jumped aboard the kickstart almost immediately. The reasons are quite simple: Bellwood’s comics are relatable. Each comic reflects something I have experienced in my own life – from concerns over creative output, to doubt about the validity of self-care, and worry for the state of the world.

The concept of illustrating one’s inner demon is simply elegant, and Bellwood allows this concept to shine through the use of (mostly) a single square panel per comic/page. I love Bellwood’s smooth lines and shading and the mix of realism and metaphorical images within the collection. The images are fun and motivational (like comic 14, which shows Bellwood with a jetpack on her back, about to launch),  as well as cute, heartfelt, and beautiful.

Some other cool things about this collection:

  1. Bellwood’s been working to make sure that she offers an accessible version for those who need/want it. You don’t see a lot of people talking about accessibility, especially in industries that are so image-based, like comics.
  2. The book features some bonus content, so those who followed on Instagram get a little something extra
  3. You can get a super cute demon plushie to accompany your copy

While each comic is somewhat self-contained, addressing a different situation or conversation, a grander theme emerges as one makes their way through the collection. The little black inked demon is a doubter, a whiner, and a discourager, as we might expect of the voice of self-doubt. But Bellwood illustrates that the relationship between artist (or individual) and demon is more complex than this. The demon is also a sympathetic figure in some of Bellwood’s comics – a child in need of comfort, or an over-protective voice encouraging us to avoid what it believes is dangerous. And that’s part of what I love about this personification. It shows the diversity in the ways our doubts manifest themselves; the demon is the voice of our loudest doubts and quietest concerns. He is a source of motivation at some points, a reminder of our (realistic and valid) limits at others.

The honesty in these comics inspired many online while Bellwood was completing the 100 Day Project, and I think you can see the impact of the many comments and stories shared on Bellwood’s Instagram (and elsewhere) is reflected in the comics themselves. The final few comics especially focus on community, and when I see them at the end of this collection, I a filled with all kinds of warm fuzzies. Ultimately, this little book is a reminder that we are not alone. And that gives me hope.

I think many of you, regardless of whether you consider yourself an artist or creator, will feel the same way.

Final thoughts: Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues is an enchanting collection that explores self-doubt, imposter syndrome, creativity, and community. It’s a loving reminder that insecurities are natural and that we need not be alone in dealing with them. I encourage everyone to get a copy or gift a copy.

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