164 Days is the second webcomic to be featured in this series and is written and created by talented illustrator Kirsty Mordaunt.
This is another example of a comic that I only came across earlier this year and which has become a favourite weekly read. The setting of 164 Days is in the creator’s words:
“… loosely based on a Steampunk/Late Victorian innovation period, where science and invention are highly prized, and airships are still a primary mode of travel (mostly because of Weather Witches). Trains exist but cars are not widely used.”
The main story opens with Wil Andersen, an eighteen year old boy, who is anxious about his older brother, Jakob. Jakob having left the family home suddenly, in the middle of the night, now seems to have vanished without trace.
In visiting the university where Jakob usually studies to try and find some leads on his disappearance; Wil meets the confident and outgoing Ysendra, a Weather Witch, or rather Ysendra introduces herself and offers to help a rather despondent Wil find Jakob. From this point their adventures ensue.
In similarity to the earlier featured Gunnerkrigg Court, this story is suitable for pre-teen and older readers, although the storyline and characters are very different. The mystery of where Jakob has vanished to places Wil outside of the somewhat protected and insulated life he has had with his mother and older brother. Ysendra too has, for reasons currently unknown, left her family who live in the mountain area where the main part of Weather Witch society appears to originate from.
The other main engagement in the storyline is the mystery behind what motivates the characters. Despite Wil’s early, and rather blatant, loyalty and devotion to his genius, scientifically minded, brother what is discovered about Jakob later on definitely indicates an ambiguous and deceptive element to his character. Other characters appear with mysteries surrounding them; a young girl who is rescued from a crashed airship and seems to have lost her memory of who she is, yet insists that Wil is her big brother. Varik, a man of colour who is hired to protect Wil on his journeying to find Jakob. And Maria Andersen, Wil and Jakob’s mother who is the patiently devoted wife to an absent and work-obsessed scientist husband.
The themes are serious but the humour is often light-hearted, observational and sarcastic which creates a genial dimension to the storytelling that compliments the art style. As with other serial works; over time (164 Days has been running since August 2011) the art has adapted and changed, as Kirsty Mordaunt explains in the F.A.Q section, it is an attempt to learn to draw a comic by actually doing one. The colouring and line drawing is, to me, very much in the method in keeping with an illustrator’s eye, with much use of environmental lighting for the characters and using character-driven detail to create a believable world.
You can find out more about the adventuring Andersens and Ysendra the Weather Witch at the 164 Days website.