A popular mainstay on the small press circuit for the last couple of years, Sarah Millman is known for the colourful, upbeat and fun comic A Heart of Time. Now, ‘Milmo’ has released her new book, NPC Tea, which focuses on a modern day take of Men, Elves and Orcs as one girl seeks out some powerful spirits. Will this comic become as popular as Millman’s previous title or will it not be everyone’s cup of tea?
Publisher: Sarah Millman
Writer: Sarah Millman
Artist: Sarah Millman
Price: £5 from Sarah’s etsy store
Our rating: [star rating=”4.5″]
In a world where Elves, Orcs and Humans once united to defeat the mages within the world, NPC Tea tells the story of Hannah, a wide-eyed, eager to learn, young lady who has developed the ire of her lecturer in the magic school she attends, all to learn more of the mythical spirits thought trapped in human form somewhere. However, Hannah’s desire to learn more about these missing ‘Aesei’ becomes a lot more realistic when, upon going to meet her mysterious friend who supplies her with her information, Hannah finds her way into a regular little tea shop, which just so happens to have some very unusual staff members.
NPC Tea is a highly enjoyable comic. The concept is interesting and the story moves along nicely with just enough backstory and exposition, given as part of a history lesson, to provide the world with some depth while not sacrificing the pace. The narrative too is well thought out, with many humorous little moments by the main characters, such as Hannah’s constant debating with her lecturer and one scene which reads as sarcasm first time round but takes a very different meaning once you go back. As for the characters, Hannah Is a good lead, upbeat, full of wonder and is a nice contrast to Amelia from Millman’s prior comic, a Heart in Time. The other characters are a little bit limited in terms of their development, but are made interesting and compelling enough to bring readers back wanting to know more. Of course, the one complaint is that the story arc feels a bit limited in this first issue as it doesn’t reveal the greater plot. However, this can be forgiven as this 1st issue sets up much about the world, easing us in for the main story to come.
As for the art though, while Millman’s style looked good on Heart of Time, here it ups the ante as it looks an inch perfect fit, as if her style was created specifically for this idea. The major standout is the colour scheme as NPC Tea, while predominantly appearing ‘Black and White’ with no colours filling, uses inking which is split between three different colour schemes, which helps break up the book nicely between backstory, the focus on Hannah and the focus on Bryn and the tea shop, while also helping make this book stand out.
Otherwise, the pencils are light and help keep the title looking bright and optimistic while the various characters are given just enough difference to differentiate the Orcs, Elves and humans while still making them appear similar.
With NPC Tea, Sarah Millman has shown an incredible level of growth in her artistic and storytelling chops. With a story full of wonder and intrigue as well as some of the most striking visuals seen in comics of late, this is an issue worthy of delving into – ideally along with a nice cup of tea.