This Post Contains Spoilers.
“Revenge is like a plume of smoke.” –K. Lynn Smith
A unique gem in the world of web comics, K. Lynn Smith’s Plume is a seamless blend of Western Adventure and Fantasy. Set during the early turn of the century within a kind of alternative universe, the story follows the young daughter of an archeologist, Vesper Grey and her supernatural watchdog-companion-of-sorts, Corrick. Though I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate my latter moniker. Together, they take on the Old West to reclaim the ancient and mystical artifacts that were stolen from her father.
Vesper Grey is a refreshing heroine. Headstrong and easily bored by the unrelenting expectations placed on her by her wealthy aunt (whom she temporarily stays with until her father returns from his latest expedition), it’s clear that she has no patience for tedium and constraint. When creating Vesper Grey Smith notes that, “Too often do we see these big, busty leggy vixens in comics. I wanted Vesper to be a Tom Boy with too much pride and an overzealous need for adventure.” Fortunately for Vesper, she gets the excitement she longs for when she encounters Corrick, a powerful and mysterious being that has been soul-bound to an amulet given to her by her father.
Corrick introduces himself as her otherwordly protector whose chief purpose is to keep her from harm. There are a few catches in the fine print, however. While Corrick has sworn to keep her safe, he has no loyalty to anything but the amulet. That means that if it ever leaves her possession and is worn by someone else, he becomes their bodyguard instead. An unpleasant scenario to consider given the events that happen later. Additionally, the amulet’s power weakens if Vesper goes “looking for trouble.”
Although trouble finds Vesper soon enough, she’s not exactly the type to sit back and welcome it passively. “[Vesper] often gets herself into a pickle,” says Smith. “And that’s where Corrick comes in to save her tail. They have their flaws, which makes their adventure so much better. They have room to grow.”
In that vein, perhaps one of the most compelling elements of Plume is the relationship between Vesper and Corrick. Their interactions with one another are both funny and authentic. When asked what aspect of their relationship she liked best, Smith replied, “They are opposites, red and blue, hot and cold…I love writing and drawing panels with the both of them in it. And they do tend to write themselves.”
Recently, Smith has just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. The fan response was overwhelming. While the initial goal was $3,000, the amount of pledges they received exceeded $9,000. “I was thrilled!” says Smith. “For this last campaign, Devil’s Due Entertainment [an independent comic book publisher] handled it for me. When they first released to me the amount we were striving for, I thought, ‘There’s no way we’d reach that!’ For a while, I did not think we would. But low and behold, we surpassed our goal.” Regarding the enthusiasm of her fans—many of whom she met face to face at this year’s New York Comic Con—Smith says, “They are die-hard Plumers and I love every single one of them…When I first started the project, I had no idea it would grow the way it did. What had started out as a fun hobby has already taken me to a level I never thought I would be.”
Smith’s own story is an inspiration for aspiring comic book artists. Originally, she had started posting on a free site called Smackjeeves. Thanks to her ever-growing fanbase, she now gets to share her story in print. When working on Plume, her day typically begins in the morning, “I work the best in the wee early hours, which is tough because of my full time job. Because my time is limited, I usually plan the pages in stages: Today, I will get the rough done. Tomorrow, the line work. The next day, the base color. And so on. It makes it difficult. But until I quit my job, that’s just how it is.” Her advice for others who dream about creating their own graphic novels or comic book series? “Don’t over-think, just do it. If you want to become a comic artist, design your characters, map out your story, then start posting!”
All in all, Plume promises to be as exhilarating as its premise. Considering its rousing success thus far, it has definitely made itself a series that should be closely watched. With a cast of colorful characters, a thoughtful foundation for a sophisticated plot, and artwork that is as crisp and sassy as its protagonist, K. Lynn Smith has given readers a charming series that we can really root for.