Mamo is a new series by artist and writer Sas Milledge that may not be on your radar, but it should be. It’s a new five-issue series about a young girl seeking help for her sick mother, but the only remaining witch in town is a young hedge witch who isn’t very interested. It’s a comic that’s as mysterious as it is beautiful, wrapping the story in a beautiful world of wispy trees blowing in the wind in a small coastal town.
This issue works well because it keeps the reader just enough in the dark. As we try to gather who the protagonist is, we’re introduced to a young witch who is casually sitting in their car outside the town. She’s pleading for help, but she’s also fully aware witches exist. As you try to piece together what is going on, Milledge introduces magical elements. It allows the magic to come into the story in a naturalistic sort of way as if it’s part of the beautiful environment.
The witch is reluctant about helping the main character, which creates a natural conflict between the main characters. They are sizing each other up all along the way as we the reader are trying to figure out who they are and what they’re really about. It ends up drawing you in and get hyperfocused on the rich art, curious animals, and who these characters are. In fact, names aren’t even exchanged until later in the issue.
It’s also interesting to see how the witch character isn’t conventional in the least. They have a cat, which is quite animated, but they wear regular clothes and certainly don’t carry a wand. There’s a visual theme that reoccurs that helps prove they are magical, but their general look makes them ordinary. That normalizes things.
In a way, this character and the entire vibe of the book is similar to Studio Ghibli films. A good example of this is a scene involving a spoon — we soon learn it’s a trap, but instead of a magical creature, we see insects. It helps convey the fact that maybe magical creatures are around us but may not be visible.
Milledge blends a simplistic style with well-timed close-ups of animals or a clever curve to the horizon. Nature is all around these characters, and by extension, the magic is too. The characters themselves are quite young, which gives the book an adventure feel. It helps every child character has rosy cheeks — even adults for that matter — which give them a youthful and unique design aesthetic. Colors are warm like a brisk, cool day, while interiors are a bit darker in tone, adding to the eerie vibe when the characters eventually reach the protagonist’s house.
Mamo is a patient, ethereal, and beautiful work for fans of the magic of all sorts. Read it for the mystery and the curious and unique magical world, but read it a second time for the beautiful art.
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