Danny Gunn, the chain-smoking star of Kel MacDonald's Sorcery 101, takes magic lessons from a vampire, lives with a werewolf, and finds himself pulled into all manner of supernatural intrigue, all in a world that doesn't believe in magic.
Sorcery 101 is set in a world very much like our own, but with a few key differences – aside from the existence of the supernatural. It's a slightly off-kilter version of our world, where the countries have different names and there are rumors of the existence of magic, demons and the like, but most people believe any evidence of the supernatural is a hoax perpetrated by an insane royal.
But Danny Gunn isn't most people. He lives with a young family comprised of his best friend, a Star Wars-obsessed werewolf named Brad, Brad's powerful mage wife Ally, and their hyperactive werewolf daughter Rebecca. He takes sorcery lessons from Pat, an unlikely and perpetually grumpy vampire, and has a physiological bond with a second, sadistic vampire, Seth.
The supernatural population hides in plain sight, but has its own bars (occasionally run by demon catgirls), its own mobsters, its own physicians, even its own cities. Danny lives very much in both worlds, teaching history at a private boys' high school, wooing ladies of both the human and demon persuasions, and trying to learn magic without burning down the house.
Rather than following a single arc, Sorcery 101 consists of a series of episodes. Sometimes the supernatural world collides with the mundane world, and Danny's students and human acquaintances get swept up in the danger. But as the series progresses, MacDonald draws us more deeply into the politics of the supernatural world.
Sorcery 101 isn't perfect; there are stretches where MacDonald was in dire need of a copy editor and she does at times lean heavily on the exposition. But when MacDonald nails her world and character building, she really nails it. Brad was an artist before he became a werewolf, but now that he's colorblind, he has trouble finding work in his field. Pat seems at first your typical angsty vamp, but we come to realize he's earned his angst; being a vampire is anathema to everything he was in his former life. Danny is a charming cad, but MacDonald is doing a nice slow burn on his backstory, which is connected to the general belief that magic is a hoax. In fact, despite the fast-paced, often action-packed stories that comprise Sorcery 101, slow burn is a good way to describe the comic. MacDonald delights in teasing her readers with little bits of information that hint at a larger picture.
MacDonald also remembers that her characters are supposed to be people when they're not getting kidnapped by vampires or taking mercenary jobs from shady demons. Danny may be a cad at times, but his heart's usually in the right place, and he walks the fine line between screw-up sorcerer and semi-responsible teacher and divorced dad quite well. Brad's an affable dork who's accepted being a werewolf even if it's not a fate he would have chosen for himself. There are some characters (especially the psychopathic Seth) with over-the-top personalities, but MacDonald is smart enough to use them as seasoning, a sharp contrast against the main cast. Oh, and, in between all the mayhem and murder, it's a funny comic — with a bit of bite.
MacDonald also has three additional comics on the Sorcery 101 site: As We Were, From Scratch, and Strange Someone, each written by by Kel MacDonald and drawn by different artists. Although these comics take place in the Sorcery 101 universe, they offer nice examples of MacDonald's versatility as a writer and her ability to imagine her universe beyond the immediate action of Sorcery 101.