This Wednesday will see the release of Emma Ríos and Hwei Lim’s watercolor fantasy comic Mirror #1. It should be a whimsical, gorgeous romp even without background knowledge of the series, but although it’s simply titled Mirror, the book is part of the greater 8house tapestry, a collaborative project by Ríos and her Island compadre Brandon Graham.
Emma Ríos is a Spanish artist best known for her work with Kelly Sue DeConnick on the mythological Western Pretty Deadly, and as co-creator and editor of Island magazine with Graham. Hwei Lim is a Malaysian artist renowned for her fantasy webcomics Hero and Boris and Lalage, which are both absolutely worth checking out if you’re unfamiliar with her work.
Mirror is described by its publisher Image as “a new ongoing series following a terrorist talking dog, an idealist mage, and a heroic lab rat on their quest for acceptance.” Ríos is writing the main story with Lim on art, while each issue will feature a backup story written by Lim and drawn by Ríos, a fun little collaborative table-turning on Ríos’ first major project as a writer. The book is notable for its watercolor artwork as well as creative paneling, and we can’t wait to see where it goes.
But it doesn’t end there. Mirror was conceived as part of 8house, a shared fantasy universe of different stories by a variety of creators, and rather than tie together in a direct plot sort of way, they connect on more of a thematic level. The first three storylines released under the 8house banner were Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland’s Arclight, Graham and Xurxo G. Penalta’s Kiem, and Fil Barlow and Helen Maier’s Yorris.
Originally 8house was a single monthly comic that would run a few issues of one arc, and then jump to another–the goal was to allow artists as long as they needed to create their work instead of impose a monthly grind, so if one artist’s issue wasn’t done yet, we’d just get an issue of one of the other arcs rather than a fill-in artist or a delay.
They’re all beautiful in their own way, and like Graham’s previous Image collaborative project Prophet, they all share the common theme of “bodies.” Arclight is about an entirely genderfluid society and a woman searching for her lost body; Kiem is about a woman who astral projects into her dead brother’s body lightyears away to carry out dangerous missions on a foreign planet; Yorris is about two warring factions who use ghosts as weapons. Mirror‘s “quest for acceptance” hints that it will continue dealing with concepts of bodies.
We got five 8house issues in all: two of Arclight, one of Kiem, and two of Yorris. In addition, Marian Churchland created From Under Mountains with Claire Gibson and Sloane Leong, a story that takes place in the 8house universe but is its own separate monthly comic–it’s up through issue #4 right now, and is still ongoing.
Mirror was meant to be the next 8house arc, beginning with 8house #6… but as you can tell from the looong description, it was an overcomplicated concept that confused readers, and outside Fantom Comics, it bombed in sales. Since each of the arcs stands on its own as an independent story, the creators are hopeful Mirror will sell better if they take “8house” out of the title and simply release it as “Mirror #1.” People are much more willing to pick up a new #1 than a random issue #6; the contents will be exactly the same as back when it was called 8house: Mirror, and it’s still part of the 8house universe–just without 8house in the name anymore.
It’s up to you whether you want to track down 8house #1-5 before picking up Mirror–it’ll enrich your experience, but you can still read Mirror as its own story. Either way, the world needs more crazy watercolor adventures by all-female creative teams, so think about checking out Mirror #1 when it shows up at your local shop or cozy digital platform this week.