In my last installment of Webcomics Wednesday, I picked a comic to banish your winter blues. I still think Magic Realms fits that description, but this week’s pick—Victoria Grace Elliott’s Balderdash! Or, a Tale of Two Witches—does too. Maybe, like Magic Realms, it’s the magic girls at the center of Elliott’s comic, but I have a suspicion it has something to do with all the delicious baked goods. Georgie has grown up on an elk ranch among other magic folk, who use their powers for everything from getting dressed to whipping up a cake. She, however, is enamored with “natural” baking—which uses no magic at all—and when the time comes for her to get an apprenticeship, she eschews the local magic bakery for the far-away Löffel Bakery, under the tutelage of prickly Fausto. Sure, she’s nervous to strike out on her own, but she’s ready for an adventure.
Only, when she finally makes it to the village of Löffel, there’s been quite a misunderstanding: Fausto doesn’t want an apprentice at all, and the person she’s been corresponding with this whole time is one of his twin nephews, either Fabian or Falk (puzzlingly, everyone in the family signs their name with just their first initial). Georgie’s already nervous enough and she’s traveled so far only to find out she’s not even wanted! It’s quite a blow, but Fausto’s herbalist sister, Fabiola, and friendly Falk make her feel right at home. Now, if only she could master baking without magic.
Meanwhile, a very different kind of witch is coming to Löffel. Afia, fresh off a disappointing meeting with her thesis advisor, during which her research was rejected, has decided to run away. She leaves behind her oblivious family and her studies and travels down-river with her grandmother, a wizened sorceress. During their journey, Afia has a series of disturbing, repetitive dreams, and her grandmother tells her the truth: Afia is experiencing witchsight, and the sooner she learns how to use her powers—and accept the hermetic, nomadic life the role requires—the sooner she’ll feel peace.
Afia disembarks in Löffel, and as she’s poking around the tiny village and getting comfy with the idea of calling herself a “traveling sorceress,” she enters the market where Georgie is frantically trying to manage her new role. At this point in the story, they haven’t met yet, but they’ve both encountered the same cute creature, which only promises some future meeting.
Elliott cultivates a cute, cheery atmosphere not only with the twee content—magic! baking! cute creatures!—but with her soft palette, manga-like figures, and flat patches of color accentuated by twinkly details. She also sprinkles a few recipes throughout Georgie’s story, both with and without magic, and in a charming turn, uses the same layout and format to provide instructions for Afia’s sorcery. This enchanting coming-of-age comic is still in its early stages, but webcomics readers who love warmth, magic, and tasty goodies should tune in for Elliott’s weekly updates.