Comics / Digital Comics

Things Change: The Metamorphoses Comic


By Beth Davies-Stofka
November 19, 2008 - 13:44

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Derik Badman is one of the most thoughtful web comics artists on the American scene, maintaining a must-read blog at the same time that he crafts his semiweekly comic Things Change.  The comic is inspired and guided by the epic narrative Metamorphoses, the ancient masterpiece by the Roman poet Ovid.  Being a fan of Ovid, and a fan of Badman, I began reading Things Change: The Metamorphoses Comic regularly as soon as it launched.

The comic takes as its guiding principle the main theme of Ovid's Metamorphoses.  In short, everything changes, and change is the most interesting part of the story.  Like Ovid, Badman uses multiple points of view in telling a series of stories loosely bound by the theme of change.  Also like Ovid, Badman reflects on violence against women, and the problems of infidelity.  Badman has a slightly more optimistic view of love than Ovid's, and a less ironic sense of culture.  And Badman is not nearly as self-conscious as Ovid. 

In his most significant departure from the ancient poem, Badman's characters are human beings, ordinary people working out problems that are familiar to readers in the depressing regularity of their occurrence. 

Badman's use of color is one of the most striking features of the strip, compelling the eye and helping to establish new points of view.  In colors and panels lie puzzles to be solved, and sometimes you'll see readers post comments suggesting solutions.  Badman's talent for expressive anatomy is another one of the features that draws readers in, and the faces of his characters are exceptional in their lovely homeliness.  The people in Things Change, especially the women, are talented storytellers, and to hear their voices is to experience something poignant and fleeting, as they pass through your life before being quickly forgotten.

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My favorite section of the comic to date was published March-June 2007.  Badman's creativity in these months feels especially fertile and liberated.  The visions in the church reflect the fragmentation, reassurance, and transformational power typically associated with religious experience.  But while such experiences are reputedly humbling and confusing, they can also create a profound sense of unity with all of creation.  Executed in lavender, a spring-time color, the awakening is simple, and profound.  The Mercury stories which follow are fearless, and June 24th's "Touchstone" grounds our presence in the story which follows.

It's not necessary to know anything of Ovid's masterpiece to be captured by Things Change.  But I like reading them together, and use Sparknotes as my guide.

Derik Badman presented at The Comic Book Bin's Second Life Comic-Con in October, and kindly followed up with this interview.

Rating: 9 /10


Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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