In the webcomic Ectopiary, a young girl has been ripped from her bohemian life to live with disapproving relatives. But her new home is full of strange mysteries, including her mother's unknown ailment and a talking dog from the moon.
Ectopiary, the latest project from Chloe and The Squirrel Machine cartoonist Hans Rickheit, starts with a familiar idea: a young girl taken from her home to live with less than child-friendly relatives. In this case, the girl is Dale, who has been living in the care of her parent's friend, a beatnik writer, in their absence. Suddenly, though, she finds herself shuttled to the home of her aunt and her physician uncle, who has been treating Dale's ailing mother.
But beyond her pinched-face aunt and her kind but distant uncle, there is something amiss in the house. There is a hellish painting hanging in the anteroom; no one, including Dale's uncle, knows the source of her mother's seizures; no one will explain exactly what happened to Dale's father; and a giant white dog keeps visiting Dale for reasons she does not yet understand.
The mysteries of Ectopiary are unfolding very slowly (sadly, it updates only once a week, although Rickheit hopes to eventually start posting two pages a week), but there's a remarkable beauty in watching even the smallest, quietest moments. Rickheit captures the strange coldness of Dale's new home, and he wisely makes the less fantastical elements – her uncle's treatments, an oddball neighbor – as menacing and grotesque as the supernatural.
It makes no less compelling the questions: What is going on in this home? What is wrong with Dale's mother and what did happen to her father? And why does the moon dog keep coming to Dale?