Satisfy Your Craving for a Progressive, Meaningful Story: As the Crow Flies Review

Have you ever wished there was a webcomic that addresses pressing societal issues in a natural but fun way? And has artwork that’s fun to look at?

Well, look no further than As the Crow Flies!


as the crow flies review colored pencil shavingsAs the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman is a surprisingly intricate work of art and I love it.

Those two points are reason enough for me to share an As the Crow Flies review with you. But this webcomic’s story adds even more depth, biting into an ordinary-looking donut only to find that it’s Boston creme. (Score!)

Gillman’s work is pleasantly sweet and tasty…except when it’s tackling some hard truths. They don’t shy away from complex issues, like racism, homophobia, and Christian hypocrisy.

But Crow reveals and tackles these issues in an accessible way – through the experiences and musings of a 13 year old at summer camp.

In an interview with Pipe Dream Comics, Melanie Gillman says:

“I concocted a camp that would allow me to talk about the subjects I wanted to tackle in the story – specifically, the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism you find in Christian spaces and (worse), supposedly feminist ones.”

That’s a lot to pack into a webcomic. Gillman builds tensions quickly, setting up the atmosphere of the Christian camp and shrouding future plot points in mystery.

But As the Crow Flies never gives you more than you can handle. There’s space for reprieve and reflection.

Scenic interludes with intricately-penciled mountains, rocks and trees let you stop and enjoy the art, another major selling point of this webcomic.

For those of us who’ve been waiting for a story like this, the reading itself feels almost cathartic.


The Plot

Charlie is a queer, black teenager who we meet on her way to Camp Three Peaks, a girls’ Christian summer camp in the mountains. The environment she finds at the camp appears less than welcoming, but before long, Charlie discovers an ally.

For one week, the girls will follow the trails established by Beatrice Tillson, a feminist settler who started this women’s expedition. The women in her settlement made an annual pilgrimage to a shrine they built atop of the tallest of the camp’s three peaks.

Led by their camp counselors, Charlie’s group will visit the shrine and take part in a mysterious women’s ceremony. No one will reveal the content of this ceremony, but Charlie and her friends begin to poke holes in the exclusive rhetoric surrounding this event.


The Artwork

Beautiful? Fun? Adorable?

You can take a look for yourself and decide.

as the crow flies review colored pencil sharpener and shavingBut consider this. Gillman’s work on Crow is all colored pencil. And they use up an average of 1.33 colored pencils per page.

Think about it. Have you ever completely used up a colored pencil? How long did that take? (And I’m not talking about breaking them.)

Full disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever used up a whole colored pencil. I just have nubs scattered around the house.

The point is, this is a whole new level of colored pencil art. And it’s pretty cool to see an art supply as ordinary and accessible as colored pencils be used to create a whole webcomic (well, in-progress).

It’s easy to forget, or not realize in the first place, how much you can do with colored pencils. Gillman makes me want to reach for my basic Derwent set right now.


Closing Thoughts

As the Crow Flies has been nominated for the Eisner Award, a comic award that’s a pretty big deal. There’s even a Kickstarter going for a print edition of volume one, to be produced by Iron Circus Comics.

The Kickstarter closes on Wednesday, June 14th, which is why I wanted to get this post up now.

But guess what?

They met their goal yesterday morning! So physical copies of As the Crow Flies will soon be released into the world. But if you were really jazzed about this comic and ready to support it, you still can!

If they meet their stretch goal of $30k, Melanie will create a bonus comic, WHICH WOULD BE AWESOME.

Regardless of what you do with your money, check out As the Crow Flies here – I mean, it’s free and better than scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.

You can also see more of Melanie Gillman’s work on Tumblr, support them on Patreon, or follow them on Twitter.