A fan convention devoted to an ordinary young woman. A man at a party dressed as a woman's shadow. An alien creature that defends itself through psychoanalysis. Webcomic The Secret Knots collects strange ideas from universes just askew from ours.
The Secret Knots, by Juan Santapau, is a rather unusual webcomic. With a few exceptions, each page is a complete installment, a bit of comics poetry about a single offbeat notion. Sometimes these ideas are rooted more firmly in our own universe — such as the story about the woman who wants to ape Harry Potter, but whose stories never turn out magical. Others walk that hazy line between reality and magical realism; in one, a group of friends develop a shared imaginary friend, who begins to creep into their stories and memories.
Others are wilder explorations: about a composer who can convey precise (and sometime uncomfortable) physical sensations through his music, a future ruled by the spammers, a holy man who found enlightenment by playing a video game over and over as if tracing a mandala.
The longest story in The Secret Knots is "Unspeakable," a Lovecraft-inspired tale that blends many of Santapau's smaller ideas (a boy who can only say the word "dog," another who can't guess his mother's real name, and, naturally, an unspeakable horror locked away) and weaves them all into an unnerving story about the desire to hang on to the mysteries of childhood.
But what comes through in even the most mundane of Santapau's stories is the sense that he is finding the magic in the world, exploring the ordinary things that could bring us to madness or enlightenment, that connect us to other people, and the extraordinary things that seem almost possible.