The first issue of Porcelain wastes no time getting started, throwing our protagonist straight into peril with dazzling artwork. If you appreciate the aesthetic of dolls, roses, and girlish fantasy with a side of darkness, grab your tea, settle in, and ready yourself to fawn over each frame.

Dilapidated structures are drawn with just as much detail, setting each scene in an immersive way. Strange currency and wide open desert scenes let you know her world is different from our own, making the reader curious to find out how and why. Even road signs show age and wear from weather, lending a grounding credibility to the locations.

Our protagonist, Beryl, has such a cute style that combines endearing with edgy. Hair bows, glossy lips, layering, and stockings complete her multiple looks. Her cat, Raubritter, even has a matching bow on his tail. With all panels in color, there is a depth and strength to the comic’s aesthetic that truly shines. I would love to check out more from the artist, Maria Llovet.

The synopsis reads, “Stuck inside an ever-changing mystery house that hunts children and turns them into dolls, Beryl goes on a psychedelic journey where she must face the notion of her own limitations and move past them… before she becomes the building’s newest prey. Porcelain is a labyrinth of a psychologically thrilling experience told in a way that only acclaimed creator Maria Llovet (Faithless, Heartbeat, Loud, Eros/Psyche) can tell it.”

Beryl hears a strange melody when an unsettling, mechanical cart arrives. Doll parts and skeletons adorn the wind up vehicle, labeled simply “Dollhouse”. Beryl is mesmerized by the melody until she is snatched up and pulled into the macabre world inside the cart.

At only 32 pages, issue one serves to introduce its world and characters, whetting your appetite for the true story to come. It ends with Beryl encountering several eclectic, creative, stunning characters. What are their goals, motivations, desires? I was left wanting to know more, see more of this new world inside the dollhouse. We don’t have much backstory yet, but that suits the mysterious tone of the first issue, begging for the questions to find answers in later volumes.

The pacing of Porcelain satisfies; never dull, but not cramming in extraneous points. Right away there is action, focusing on showing us rather than telling us. Dialogue is appropriately limited for this point in the story, relying on the gorgeous artwork and animated expressions to communicate with readers.

I am looking forward to finding out what our newly revealed villain has in store for Beryl. Do the dolls accompany her out of trust, family, or fear? What are their backstories? How deep does the dollhouse go? When Beryl talks to her aunt early on, I got the feeling that her aunt has been through something deep, and wants Beryl to have an easier, more comfortable life. Were my instincts about that right, and will we get to learn more about her family’s pasts as well?

With the stunning artwork, compelling themes, and steady pacing, I am looking forward to future volumes of Porcelain. Vol. 1 is out August 4th, from Ablaze Publishing and can be found wherever good comics are sold. Do you dare to journey inside the dollhouse?

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