Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell

Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell

Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell was a webcomic that ran from 2009-2013. I read it during that time, but since I came in at the middle, I was never sure what was going on, other than it was a bizarre blend of hipster life and religious imagery. This handsome hardcover collection of the whole strip (plus endnotes, character sketches, and a bookmark ribbon) caught me up.

Sophie Goldstein (The Oven) co-writes with Jenn Jordan and draws this strip, which reminds me of Octopus Pie with a lot more mythical creatures. Darwin Carmichael lives in a Brooklyn populated by religious deities of all kinds. His karma balance is horrible (thus the title), even though his roommates are stoner angels. I found out here WHY Darwin is doomed, as well as who all the other characters are:

  • Skittles, his pet manticore, a young lion-like creature
  • Ella, his friend, who inherited terrific karma from her parents
  • Patrick, his landlord, a minotaur
  • Meleté, the muse of art and Darwin’s roommate’s girlfriend

I don’t recall seeing Meleté before (the hazards of jumping in and out of a webcomic), so she was a real discovery for me. I wish we’d seen more of her, since the idea of someone who loves art but is insecure about making it themselves is a compelling one. I also liked the way people have unicorns instead of dogs as pets.

The colorful, imaginative world is grounded by the everyday, pedestrian activities of these young adults, whether hooking up, getting drunk at parties, catching up with old friends, or finding out how they came to be where they are now. The gang meets the Dalai Lama (and Bono), takes a road trip, and tries to help Darwin out of depression brought on by a broken heart. Ella turns into a cat, and then comes the apocalypse.

It’s rare to see a webcomic with a solid conclusion, but this one accomplishes it. It’s a fun read, watching the strip (and the art) develop over its four-and-a-half-year run. Makes me wish there was more, but I think they made the right choice to wrap it up successfully. And to collect the whole thing for more people to discover. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell

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