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Webcomic / Sorcery 101

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The main character, Danny

Sorcery 101 is a fantasy/action/drama webcomic written and drawn by Kel McDonald. It follows Danny Gunn (private school teacher, wannabe sorcerer, former crown prince) and his various friends and acquaintances. Friends include Brad and Ally Wolfe (a werewolf and a mage, respectively) and, to a lesser extent, Pat, the vampire who teaches him magic. There is also Seth, a vampire of several thousand years, and the comic's resident Magnificent Bastard. Whether or not Seth is a friend is up for debate, but Danny is blood bond to him, which can come in handy. There is also a large and dynamic secondary cast, the members of which tend to show up sporadically.

The comic concluded on October 17, 2016, after eleven years.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Action Mom: Ally. She's an air mage, for Pete's sake. When she and Brad were in financial straits, she took jobs from Alpha Phoenix a bit different from her usual role as bar manager. These jobs include assassinating demons. Brad isn't exactly happy with this, not because it's dangerous or morally questionable, but because he hates her boss.
  • Art Evolution: Not as drastic as with some other comics (it didn't need to be), but Kel's style has definitely improved over the years.
    • The redos of late make it very, very noticeable. The difference, particularly in inks and colors, is tremendous.
  • Badass Preacher: Aaron, moreso as backstory in From Scratch than in the main storyline.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: According to legend, Seth got kicked out of Hell because they were afraid he'd take over.
  • Berserk Button: Werewolf or no, Brad is usually shy and unassuming. When Ally or Rebecca is injured, however...
  • Big Eater: Werewolves.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Brad's mother. "It's a shame a girl as pretty as you is going to burn in hell."
  • Blessed with Suck: Danny's daughter has a lot more inherent magical power (or "magic stuff") than everyone else, which means she can learn nearly anything faster and is more initially adept at magic. This would be kind of cool, if it didn't cause her seizures, whopping migraines and the possibility that she will turn evil one day.
    • Danny himself counts. His romantic life is ruined by his lack of aging, and he's stuck in the bad books of most of the forces of "good" thanks to his blood bond — which was done to save his life, not for the perks. Plus, the vampire he's bonded to is Seth, a sadistic sociopath with a number of as yet unexplored ulterior motives.
    • Werewolves are either this or Cursed with Awesome. They get a rather powerful array of superpowers, and are able to lead mostly normal lives, excepting their monthly transformations and several dog-like traits. The most dramatic of said traits is the fact that they go into heat each January, but that can be managed easily with libido-killing shakes bought from Alpha Phoenix. On the other hand, they're continually at risk for being "claimed" and sold as slaves by vampires, and, like Danny, despite being mostly normal people, are stuck on the bad side of the forces of "good."
      • Most notably for Brad, though, they also go colorblind. Considering that he worked as a graphic designer, that wound up being a real problem.
  • Blind Seer: William. Apparently, the more powerful the seer's ability, the worse their eyesight.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Pat. He grew up in the Mage Council, and organization which teaches its members that most supernatural creatures — including shapeshifters, blood bonds, and even the more harmless demons — are inherently evil. Fraternization with them is treason, and grounds for execution. Now that he's a vampire, he hasn't dropped those beliefs. Even though the Council wants to kill him.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Inverted.
  • Breather Episode: Most of the chapters prominently featuring Jeff and Connor, notably "Frequently Secretly" (the boys confront each others' secrets in the most obtuse way possible) and "That'll Make This Easier" (Connor becomes a werewolf when he gets drunk, kisses Jeff, and Jeff bites his tongue). "January Friend" is shaping up to be this, considering it comes right on the heels of "White Knight" and is about werewolf estrus (which inexplicably affects males, but that's beside the point).
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Loki is a powerful vampire who is both physically strong and adept with magic. He is also totally useless without someone to keep him on task.
  • Canis Latinicus: The spells, and the language of Nistay.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Regular use of magic takes about ten to twenty years off the user's life. Danny, whose body is kept in a mostly constant state via his blood bond with Seth, is immune to these effects. Other magic users, such as Ally and Pat's late wife... not so much.
  • Chained to a Bed: Happened to Danny early on.
  • Character Development: In between "Sorcery 101" and "Strange Someone," both Jeff and Connor seem to have gotten a lot of this, which makes sense, because who's the same person they were when they were teenagers?
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Loki.
    Loki: I think this spoon is broken. It won't stick [to my nose].
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Aaron.
  • Color Blind Confusion: Werewolves become color blind, much to the dismay of Brad, who prior to his transformation was a graphic designer.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: People born with purple eyes, like Danny's young daughter Natalie, have a large amount of inherent magical power. This makes it easy for them to master new skills, but leaves them vulnerable to arrogance (or a full-fledged god complex) and causes migraines and seizures unless they learn to control their power.
  • Combat Stilettos: Suryu. She makes good use of them, too.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Seth nails Shannon to a table and burns her with sunlight until he gets info on where Frost is hiding now.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Most of the protagonists (including Brad and Rebecca) are on the "dark" side of the supernatural, solely due to the nature of their supernatural abilities.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Seth is the only known vampire who isn't bothered by sunlight, for reasons unknown. It turns out that his dragon amulet is a Protective Charm that shields him.
  • Death by Depower: Lycanthropy is easy to cure, but it causes every injury suppressed by the werewolf Healing Factor to reappear. This is Invoked to assassinate a werewolf who'd previously been shot through the head.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Danny is robbed. He enlists Seth to help him recover his property. Over the course of this little adventure, Seth a.) stabs someone who won't tell them where to find the previously mentioned robber (afterwards, he licks the bloody knife like a lollipop), and b.) kills that robber, leaving her a smoldering skeleton.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Pat is told there's no cure for vampirism - it's safe to say he didn't take it well.
  • Downer Ending: Danny has to fake his death, meaning he can never see his daughter again. Brad's dead. And the last page is a single panel showing Danny sitting with an unlit cigarette in his mouth and looking dejectedly at the cover of one of his magic books, in a dark callback to the first title page.
  • Dramedy: The comic is a pretty even mix of comedy and drama.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: It's about his only one, but Seth doesn't like slavery. His official statement on the matter is, "If you want things done right, you should do it yourself."
  • Familiar: Essentially this is what blood bonds are to vampires. Weres that the vampire has a claim on can be considered this as well, without the Psychic Link.
    • Summoners also gain a Familiar as a sign they are one.
  • Fantastic Racism: Angels and mages strongly dislike vampires, shapeshifters (including werewolves), demons... well, a lot of stuff. And while this isn't hatred so much as condescension, vampires do have what is basically a system of slavery involving the shapeshifters (and human blood bonds, but that's different).
  • Faux Affably Evil: Seth's roguish charm drops the instant it stops being the easiest way to get what he wants. Danny's about the only person who tolerates him, and only then because Seth manipulates his emotions through their blood bond.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter: Look at the page image.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Reading the companion comic "Strange Someone" means that you know the future of Connor and Jeff. It also revealed or hinted at many of the plot twists, such as Connor being gay and becoming a werewolf. Also, Jeff becomes a nurse.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Pat, averted with the rest of the vampires.
  • Functional Magic: Along with various in-universe examples, the promo picture shows Danny using his thumb as a lighter.
  • Guardian Angel: Mages get these to guide them in their demon hunting. There are all sorts of rules governing the angels' behavior, however. For example, they can't ask for help from "creatures of darkness" (even people like Brad and Danny are off limits). Cal used to be this for Ally, before she quit demon hunting to work for Alpha Phoenix.
  • Hand Blast: Vampires, or at least powerful ones like Seth and Suryu, get them. They apparently qualify as magic, as the use of them disqualified Suryu from her fight with Seth.
  • Handsome Lech: Danny, much more so when he was younger. He was apparently quite The Casanova — probably his status as crown prince didn't hinder that. These days he's content with relationships that are casual, but still vaguely monogamous.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Connor. He gets over it.
  • Hates Being Touched: In From Scratch, Aaron pointedly reiterates over and over that Seth is not to touch him - whether this is Seth-specific or simply a more general discomfort is unclear.
  • Healing Factor: Werewolves heal faster than normal humans, and can recover from very serious injuries, including being stabbed in the head and shot in the chest. Unfortunately, if they cure themselves of their condition, any injuries sustained as a werewolf will come back. This is why Brad and Jeff can't cure themselves: Danny shot Brad after he found out about him, and Jeff got, well, stabbed in the head. Vampires have this as well, to an even greater extreme — it's stated that they can even regrow limbs. Among other things.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: It's unclear, but Loki and Aaron are probably this.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Jeff and Connor are both pretty dense, although Jeff is moreso, and they're interested in the things stereotypical teenage boys tend to be — sex, sports, and drinking (well, Connor drinks. Jeff, reasonably enough, stopped after he passed out drunk and woke up at a slave auction) — but they're more well-rounded than typical examples of this trope.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Trish. She thinks Seth is her Knight in Shining Armor.
    • Although apparently this is largely due to Frost manipulating her mind.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Suffice it to say that the one spell Danny can cast ends in "Incende".
  • Jerkass: Where to begin? Pat, the bitter and misanthropic vampire prone to making racist remarks to one of the nicest characters in the series, though he retains some sympathy because of his vast stores of self-loathing and angsty backstory. Cal, Ally's former Guardian Angel, is just as prone to Fantastic Racism, but without anything to make up for it. Then there's Seth. Seth, who:
    • Convinced a very drunk Brad that Ally was sleeping with her boss, and sent him off to fight a man who is, first, probably a very powerful demon, and second, the head of an extremely powerful and far-reaching organization that essentially governs the "dark" side of the supernatural world. For no other reason than he thought it would be funny.
    • Read Rebecca — a five-year-old — The Silence of the Lambs and gave her scotch to get her to sleep afterwards.
    • Bet Danny's and Brad's freedom on the supposition that he would be able to goad Suryu, a vampire who is stronger, faster, and just as smart as him, into breaking the rules of a fight, thus ceding the fight to him. And by their freedom, I mean they would have literally been sold at auction, most likely to be used as sex slaves. Admittedly the circumstances were a bit demanding, but there was at least one other solution available, which Seth didn't favor for what was essentially a non-reason.
    • Those are just the big things. Seth's primary character trait is making life difficult for other people just because he enjoys it.
    • Honestly, the entirety of Chapter 31 is dedicated to showing off just how much of a horrible person Seth is.
  • Lethally Stupid: Ramon, wannabe necromancer extraordinaire. Upon learning that Pat was a vampire, he tries to kill him with garlic bread. He got expelled from his last school for throwing dead animals at the coach and claiming they were his undead army... then later raises an actual undead army without any plan for dealing with it.
  • Light Is Not Good: Ally is one of the few people on the "light" side who isn't a total Jerkass. Angels are Light power incarnate, are indifferent to human morality and human life, and will unrepentantly gaslight and harass children into helping them with their agenda.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Melanie enjoys dating Danny, but being targeted by his superpowered enemies for associating with him is a definite deal-breaker.
  • Magic Knight: Most mages, some sorcerers.
  • Meaningful Name: Brad Wolfe. It's his real name, too, not something he chose for himself. Kayla thinks it's rather silly.
  • No Ending: Almost immediately after Brad's funeral, the story... just stops.
  • No Social Skills: Cal, though Ally calls b.s. on it as an excuse for being a Jerkass.
  • Older Than They Look: A minor example, but Danny and Brad are this. Danny, due to the effects of his blood bond, looks to be in his early twenties, despite being thirty-something. The same goes for Brad, but it's because of his lycanthropy instead.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Ants supposedly have more in common with humans than angels do.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: These vampires are stronger and faster than humans, heal very well - up to and including regrowing limbs, although this has never been done on-screen - and can bond humans to them. Humans who have this done are referred to as "blood bonds," and afterwards don't age (they can still be hurt) and are regarded by angels as creatures of darkness. Vampires can cast magic, but can't actually be mages, as evidenced by the fact that Pat only has very limited use of his mage powers. Seth, being very old and very powerful, can withstand sunlight and has been seen outside in the daytime wearing nothing but sunglasses and a bathrobe.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: When Brad (and other werewolf characters) "go wolf", they transform into actual wolves, and look and act accordingly. However, when they turn back, they keep their tails and yellow eyes. They also have better senses and quickened healing abilities, making them nearly invincible (except for silver, of course). Some are completely color-blind. Involuntary Shapeshifting typically occurs on or around the full moon; controlling it requires a lot of work, and their transformations can still be triggered by anger or stress.
    • There are two other known types of shapeshifters - panthers and snakes.
    • It was stated in the arc where Kayla was first introduced (conscious, anyway) that it isn't being a werewolf that causes someone to go colorblind, but the process of getting control over the monthly transformation.
  • Playing with Puppets: What Frost does to Trish to demonstrate just how much control he has over her, and how much control Seth could have over Danny.
  • Precision F-Strike: The first instance of the word "fuck" is about three-quarters of the way through the story, and is used when Danny finds out that if Seth dies, so does he.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Shannon tries this on her mother.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Is it just me, the tattoos, or does this guy look a lot like Gort?
    • The Road to El Dorado: Ramon's sister tells him the reason she won't teach him a spell:
      "Stars. Can't do it. Not today. "
  • Shrouded in Myth: Seth.
    • This is apparently helped by the fact he took a famous dead vampires name "to puff his reputation"
  • Smug Straight Edge: Brad's mother.
  • Spin-Off: Strange Someone, which is about Jeff and Connor later on; As We Were, which is about completely different characters in the same universe; and From Scratch, which is about the formation of Alpha Phoenix. Also now "Bisclavret," which is about werewolves in long-ago France.
  • Straight Gay: Connor, once he gets over his over-compensating stage. By the time of Strange Someone, he's in a happy relationship.
  • Supernatural Angst: Brad has a lot of this; he doesn't consider himself to be human and is pefectly willing to let various "monster"-hating characters insult him. It's only when Pat uses an anti-werewolf slur in the presence of his daughter that he speaks up at all. Even then he's more sad than angry. (Of course, Pat himself is immensely self-loathing, so that has to say something.)
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Werewolves. Brad wears contacts to hide this when he visits his family. Jeff has to wear them most of the time, in order to go to school.
  • Super Strength: Shapeshifters and vampires, including five-year-old Rebecca, get this.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-universe example: Seth keeps a blood bond servant, Tommy, whose aging, due to the effects of the blood bond, happens to have been arrested at around age thirteen. Although his true age is later revealed to be somewhere in the vicinity of two millennia, Ally still finds this creepy.
    • Later, when Tommy says to Pat that he's been living with Seth for two thousand years, this exchange takes place:
    Pat: That's a long time to live with some—
    Tommy: We AREN'T having sex.
    Pat: I didn't say you—
    Tommy: You were thinking it. I'm old enough to recognize that look.
  • The Unmasqued World: King Damien of Lynnbria, Danny's cousin, tried to create this pre-series when he revealed to the world that he's a werewolf. Most people just think he's crazy, and organizations like Alpha Phoenix work busily to get things back under wraps. On the other hand, people are much less surprised when they find out about the supernatural world. Connor is only about as surprised that Jeff is a werewolf as Jeff is surprised that Connor is gay. Danny's now ex-girlfriend took the whole thing quite well, until she met an angel. And Danny's students talk about him practicing sorcery with only slightly less casualness than they would talk about him parasailing.
  • Wham Episode: "White Knight." Frost, with whom Seth has an oft-mentioned, long-running feud, gets his first chapter as a primary character, and he makes it count. He completely strips Trish (his blood bond) of her free will, to show Danny that he can, and convinces Danny to give him Seth's address. Danny knows full well that Seth is in his mind all the time, and that he's risking the wrath of a very powerful vampire who essentially owns him (not to mention Brad), and can control him to the same extent that Frost can control Trish. It's also heavily implied that Seth has been subtly manipulating Danny's mind since Day One.
    • And the subtle hints are pretty much confirmed as of Nightmares