The Red King by Heylenne (edited by Annie LaHue and David Lee) shows how emotions, visual factors, and bias affect perception of people and situations. A blend of science and myth, the story navigates the blind spots and illusions either missed or misinterpreted. It’s a webcomic in which the details, in the background and during character interactions, appear more than they seem.
In The Red King, eighteen-year-old Ivan Kransy encounters a woman who can transform into a bird. She’s trespassed the greenhouse on the top floor of the Kransy property, stealing a golden apple. When he tries to explain what happened afterward, nobody believes him. The security camera footage only shows him being there that night. Ivan’s father fires the security guards on the top floor, including the father of Ivan’s best friend Ry. To make things right, Ivan decides to search for the bird woman and have her come back to confess that she’s stolen the apple. As he travels from his home in the UK to Denmark, he realizes that shadowy beings are following him and will threaten him from reaching his goal.
Growing up privileged and from money doesn’t satisfy Ivan. His late mother (his father’s second wife), a scientist, died in a mysterious accident at the lab. Ivan has reason to suspect his father’s involvement in it. The golden apple, which looks like an ordinary apple until you place it under lighting, is connected to his mother’s work which discreetly involves lore about angels and Nephilim. The story itself doesn’t give away too much information at one time. Instead, it provides enough mystery and context to create the sense of not everything appears as it is. Nothing is simple or straightforward, especially during Ivan’s physical and emotional journey.
The webcomic contains panels where the devil is in the details: certain objects or figures that stand out like a headless mannequin, shading or lighting that may or may not be a shadowy or supernatural being, and character interactions that provide subtlety and tension. The gorgeous art style reflects the things initially missed.
The Red King is available to read on WebToon. The release date for season 2 is TBA. Content warnings for domestic violence and animal death.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomic archives!
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. They’re a submissions editor for Uncanny Magazine, a reader for Bodega Magazine, a volunteer for the Queer SFF Book Database, and an intern for Entangled Publishing. Their various areas of interest include intersectionality in apocalyptic and disaster films, Artificial Intelligence, writing for animation, YA SFF, and LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media.
Location: DC Metro area
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