What Is This Mortal Coil?

Jan 1, 2024, 6:00:00 AM

Magical Girl Kamiko cover image

Magical Girl Kamiko cover image

This Mortal Coil is a webcomic created by Glenn Song. It's the story of Takahashi Natsumi, who becomes a modern day goddess, and her adventures in the mortal world and the supernatural, eternal realm.

Inspirations and Aspirations

The inspiration for This Mortal Coil came back in January of 2010. It was a mixture of western comics I loved like Preacher and Sandman, shows like BBC's Doctor Who, and anime like Death Note and Natsume's Book of Friends.

Having watched and read all of that pop culture, it stewed in my brain and one day the idea popped out. A young woman who becomes a goddess and has adventures in time and space, here and beyond our realm. To get there she would have to die and become something else all together.

I'm a big fan of Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion. One of the big inspirations for me from that time was the movie Kamikaze Girls. The women and men who dressed in that style looked out of synch with the modern world. Natsumi, nee Kamiko, would dress like that because she wanted to look different than she was -- a style of clothing to fit her role as something other than a normal person.

If I drew this comic, a big if at the time... I thought it would be really cool if I did it in the same high contrast, black and white style of Frank Miller's Sin City, not because the story was a noir, but because I liked the asthetic of it. Black and white mixing together to create all things, much like how Daoism expresses that with the yin and yang symbol. If I did my job well, as a viewer, you'd have to really look to soak in the details.

Every page a piece of art.

One of Us

Around that time, a friend of mine also wanted to put together a comic anthology for our small drawing circle. It was meant to be a small ashcan comic that we'd sell at the Alternate Press Expo.

I thought I might do an illustration.

She reiterated that a comic would perform better. It would get people to buy the book -- not that we expected anyone beyond friends and family to buy a small comic zine.

Still it was enough of a push to write and draw some sequential art. It was only meant to be a few pages, so I drafted up a scene called "One of Us" named after the Joan Osborne song. In it a young woman dies and is given a second chance beyond her control, but she isn't told much else.

I hadn't done much sequential art at that point, so there was much to learn -- how to panel, where to focus the camera and how to tell a story visually. I definitely did not get it right, but it's good enough. I had to figure out how I was going to do the high contrast artwork and quickly hit upon its limitations and drawbacks, but I forged ahead anyway.

In April of 2010 I had a piece of work and the initial flicker of an idea had warmed into some strong embers.

The Rabbit and the Moon

I have a core group of friends who really enjoyed the idea of making a game together. And we agreed to meet on Sundays to do that. There was a game mechanic we wanted to implement, but when we got together, I also found myself doing the serious lifting trying to program the mechanics.

One by one, each member of the group drifted off and I decided that doing indie game dev like that was too hard. In fact, my thinking went, if I wanted to do a project on my own, I'd want something to utilize my artistic, writing, and programmaing skills.

That really lit the flame to build something bigger for This Mortal Coil. I'd write a new script, a longer story. I'd storyboard, pencil, ink, and produce a longer graphic novel, and then I'd put it up on the web -- I'd program the website myself.

It would be a massive project. Not something fly by night. Certainly, not easy.

In my mind, I had to reframe it... not as finishing the project, but as a chance to learn and do things outside of my wheelhouse and get better at things. It would give my writing and art a focus. The coding would support the idea.

In short, it took me six years from that day to finish The Rabbit and the Moon. In that time I learned how to build a site in Wordpress. I wrote a script, re-editted it, drafted it as a storyboard, and drew a 128-page story. Most of it fits perfectly within the pages of a traditional graphic novel, but towards the end, for the climax of the story I wanted to animate parts.


To me that was the promise of being all digital. The comic didn't have to work like a traditional book. There could be interactivity, animation, sound, and more.

Some of that came to fruition in the online comic, but what I didn't think would happen next would be an actual self-published book one that I sold at APE... 7 years after the first time I brought it there apart of a comic anthology. It didn't sell like gangbusters, but it sold more than I thought it would and it really showed me the power of my own creation.

The Future

It's hard to keep a long term project going, but it's become apart of who I am. I've tried to express the story in different ways since the Rabbit and the Moon and it's given rise to Magical Girl Kamiko.

I've written notes, done world building, and there's a lot bubbling under the surface which you, dear reader, will probably never see.

There's been times where I can make a lot of art and other times where I haven't. It's a long standing promise to myself to keep creating, learning, and growing, and I hope you'll come along on this journey with me to see where This Mortal Coil and Kamiko go next.

Please read the comics, they'll always be free to read. If you enjoy them, share them with your like-minded friends. If you want to there are ways to support me as well in the links below, but that is not necessary.

Thank you!

Vote For Us!

Please vote for the comic on TopWebComics

If you like my work, you can follow me here:

All my links are on LinkTree.

Where to Read This Mortal Coil

This website will always be the best way to read This Mortal Coil, because I can present it the way I want too, BUT, the comic is serialized on these sites as well. If you prefer one of those portals, please follow me there!

Lolita Fashion Coloring Book

I'm also the creator of the Lolita Fashion Coloring Book, which you can purchase on Amazon!

And as always have a great weekend!