I don’t know about you, but this winter feels never-ending. Looking at the wind chills in the negatives and snow totals creeping into the double digits, I think that there’s no better way to pass the time than with comics. One of the gems that I’ve happened upon recently was the fantasy webcomic De La Isla, by Lorena Torres Loaiza. On the South American island, De La Isla, readers are thrown into the chronicles of a maid named Valeria and the heiress of the illusive Velasquez family, Ximena. As the two girls grow older and they must face their future, their life-long bond loosens, and their friendship begins to show its limits. Before this, I’d found it difficult to invest in a webcomic, but I became enthralled in these whimsical storylines, with each chapter leaving me needing more. It is a fantastic graphic novel to kick-off 2021. With a new upload every Tuesday on Webtoon and Tapas, follow this tale filled with magic, compelling characters, and captivating writing.
I want to highlight a vital part of this comic: is its creator, writer, and publisher, Lorena Torres Loaiza (Twitter and Instagram). You may know her as the writer from titles like Dying Wish, The Way Home, or Wraith. The amount of talent and patience it takes to make something like this is immense, and for one person to take on such a large project single-handedly is inspiring. I always enjoy looking at different styles, especially from self-published creators, and her work stands out against anything that I’ve seen lately. Her distinctive line work and use of striking color schemes speak volumes about her characters and sets the tone for the whole series. The mood flows as her color pallets paint the atmosphere for those pages. Some of my favorite panels mix realistic backgrounds into the overall piece. It is eye-catching and makes for some memorable scenes. All of the designs are so unique. The amount of passion and enthusiasm that was poured into the story is evident. As a writer and artist always trying to get work out to the world, De La Isla is such an encouraging example of what can be done in a passion project like this.
Focusing on the writing. All of the characters, especially Ximena and Valeria, are easy to invest in. Although their struggles may have revolved around magical fantasies, it is easy to suspend your disbelief and connect with them along their journey. Throughout De La Isla, sisterhood plays a large role in the plot and helps us build those attachments to them further. I love stories that break from the traditional tropes of good vs. evil or saving the damsel in distress. Loaiza focuses on so much more than that. With themes of coming to terms with changing relationships and following your destiny, it resonates with a lot of people. Certainly, I can say that it left a lasting impact on me. Even as we enter this fantasy world filled with enchantment and wizardry, there are echoes of our realities seeped into every one of the characters. It is quite comforting having such human emotions intertwined into a story filled with fantasy.
We learn the most about the characters and their struggles, for the most part, from their interactions with one another. The comic is heavily dialogue-driven, making for a fascinating character study. It’s very easy to get entangled in the inner workings of their relationship with one another. When characters are this well written and the storyline is this enthralling, it opens it up to a much larger audience. The comic is filled with inspiring leads, realistic flaws, and emotion-filled relationships. De La Isla deserves so much attention and I hope that readers of all ages will enjoy it as much as I do.
If you are looking for a series made of magic and wonder in the form of a character study, then De La Isla might be up your alley. I highly recommend checking out the talented Lorena Torres Loaiza on her website and social media for more art and her other comic work. This webcomic is a compelling tale and an awe-inspiring work of artistry from an independent creator. You can get caught up and check out the first ten parts here! New pages will be released each Tuesday through April, so be sure to follow her on Webtoons or Tapas to stay caught up! I give this one a 12/13.