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Webcomic / Hemlock

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I will show you fear in a handful of dust...
Hemlock is a black-and-white webcomic by Josceline Fenton. Set in the forests of Scandinavia in the 1800s, it follows the story of Lumi, a young witch who, by a string of bad luck, has found herself tied up in the events of the Witches' Court, and the story of Tristan, a poor peasant boy, who, through a series of unfortunate accidents, ends up being her familiar.

Was updating every Friday, usually several pages at a time but now updates whenever Fenton has time between jobs.


This comic provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: Lumi and the fallen witch king, Sindri. Although it was only accidental on Lumi's side.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Sisu is the nicest character in the comic. He also used his wish to learn the secrets of necromancy.
  • Back from the Dead: Tristan died and his soul actually left his body, only to be sucked into the body of a frog.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ulla appears to be this. Conspiracy to attempt murder on Lumi can be added to her list of charges.
  • Bookworm: Tristan, loves reading, sets aside every spare bit of change he has for books and died after forgetting to salt the meat for winter because he was reading causing it to spoil and having to travel to town to replace it in a thunderstorm.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tristan first shows up in the comic as a little boy that happens to spot Lumi in the forest. Needless to say, he plays a far bigger role later on.
  • Civilized Animal: Subverted with Richmond. He only speaks in Snailspeak, and he doesn't live in a house: he is one.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The wedding ring Sindri slapped on Lumi. Not only can she not remove it, it can harm her if she annoys Sindri enough.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone is afraid of Baba Yaga, including her own sons.
  • Elderly Immortal: Baba Yaga is the only witch to appear elderly, because she ages whenever someone asks her a question. (She's also the oldest character in the comic, at least according to the cast page.)
  • The Evil Prince: Sindri, who basically went on a tyrannical rampage after Baba Yaga left to the other places, leaving the crown to him. He murdered his familiar, Hrimfaxi, and sold his subjects into slavery to the Night Things in order to learn their magic. Then tricked Lumi into becoming his wife after she tried to help him.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Sindri is a subversion. He originally appeared this way, but then it was confirmed that his face is shadow.
  • Familiar: Lumi was taught how to practice the old magic by her bird familiar Suul, and there are potions, poisons and spells that require a familiar to work. Later Tristan becomes her new familiar, as a replacement for Suul. Additionally, all of the witches are said to have these. The only exception, it seems, is Sindri, who supposedly murdered his.
  • Family Theme Naming: Baba Yaga's three sons all have names beginning in Si-.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The first chapter starts with a scene where Lumi eats Suul. When we find out her reasons, though, it can be viewed as a kind act.
  • Frustrated Overhead Scribble: When Lumi realizes Sindri put spider legs, which she's allergic to, in their dinner she storms out of the room with a tangled line in her speech bubble. She's been poisoning him for centuries though, and he put her favorite spices in the dish as well making his intentions muddled through their very dysfunctional relationship.
  • The Glomp: Sisu greets Lumi, who he hasn't seen in centuries, with a huge bear hug. It's a marked contrast to the way Simo treats their sister-in-law.
  • In the Blood: According to Baba Yaga herself, her three sons each take after their fathers: Sindri is selfish like the night things, Simo is paranoid like the dawn folk, and Sisu is wretchedly kind like the day people.
  • Jar of the Bizarre: Baba Yaga throws a jar full of eyeballs out the door of her house in a fit of rage.
  • Light Is Not Good: Holy crap, Simo. While the story Lumi tells portrays him as a hero overthrowing a tyrant, these days Simo is a petty, paranoid man who's committed to killing his oldest brother and willing to use Lumi to do so. He also is responsible for several of the things which are used as proof that Sindri was an nonredeemable tyrant, bragging as Sindri lay wounded that no one will remember it as Simo having been anything but a heroic liberator.
  • Meaningful Name: Tristan's last name, Grodkropp, means "frog's body". Additionally, "Tristan" means "sorrow" or alternately "tumult/noise". Make of that what you will. So far, Tristan's adventures do seem both tumultuous and a bit sad.
  • The Older Immortal: Baba Yaga's sons are thousands of years old. She herself is "damn old."
  • Public Domain Character: Baba Yaga is the oldest and most powerful witch, and also Lumi's mother in law.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Sindri stalks wordlessly up to Lumi with his sword raised, and swings it down towards her in order to kill the disguised Day soldier that snuck in by disguising himself as Lumi's cloak. Lumi is still traumatized by this and runs outside because she thought Sindri was going to kill her and she's upset even after Sindri's motive is revealed.
  • Rags to Royalty: Subverted. Lumi was tricked into her marriage to Sindri. As a result of his bad reputation, Simo refuses to recognize her as royalty and she's actually treated more cruelly than she would be if she were a common witch.
  • Talking Animal: Subverted with Richmond. He only speaks in Snailspeak.
  • Third Eye: Tristan, after transferring into the frog's body, has one appear. The eye doesn't seem to belong to him and he cannot see out of it. He covers it up with a spiffy hat.
  • Time Skip: In the space of two panels Lumi lies down to take a nap and then is woken by her husband. The nap turns out to have been 10-years long.
  • Witch Hunt: During the visit to Simo's Court, witches fleeing prosecution from the Salem Witch Trials were shown milling around.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Witches and wizards live for thousands of years, and while humans have far shorter lifetimes they are far more numerous.

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