In the Ancient Greek afterlife, souls that went to Tartarus drank from the pool of Lethe, whose waters caused them to forget the lives they'd shed. In the webcomic Helvetica, skeletal souls arrive in the afterlife with no memory of their past lives — or even their names. Most are content to eke out new afterlives in the cities of the dead, but one soul makes it his mission to reclaim his identity, no matter what.
Helvetica opens in the desert where a pair of afterlife Greeters — the flashy Mr. Good Heavens and tough guy Steak — await the arrival of their newest charge. When he appears, he's a petit skeleton who cries out "Helvetica!" saddling himself with that name for the rest of eternity. Everyone arrives into this afterlife utterly naked — skinless and nameless — and its the job of the Greeters to get them settled. Fortunately, Mr. Good Heavens and Steak, despite their differences, are well meaning chaps who get young Helvetica set up with clothes, a place to live, and a bank account. For Mr. Good Heavens, it's a simple, orderly job, one that goes best when no one asks too many questions. For Steak, it's a matter of protecting new souls from exploitation.
But Helvetica isn't content with this new order. Sure, everyone in Farwolaeth City (Welsh for "death") seems quite nice, and he can't really complain about his new digs. But Helvetica longs to know who we was before he died, and no number of assurances from Mr. Good Heavens or ominous grumbles from Steak are enough to render him complacent. Fortunately, Helvetica may have found an ally in his quest, one who knows a bit more about the secrets of the afterlife.
The look of Helvetica's skeletal characters brings to mind the similarly skeleton-filled afterlife of LucasArts's classic video game Grim Fandango, and while Helvetica isn't as closely tied to Grim Fandango's Mexican influences, Wiedle's concept art suggests that the Mexican calacas are an inspiration for his own characters. And one chapter in, it appears Helvetica has the potential to channel a similar brand of comedic noir.
Helvetica is currently on a brief hiatus while creator JN Wiedle finishes up his work for the school year. Hopefully, by May we'll see the second chapter of Helvetica and explore a bit more of Farwolaeth.