Fear of Flying is narrative webcomic (or maybe just an illustrated short story) about dragons, ghosts, monsters, and anxiety.
There are people who can turn into dragons, ghosts that make you go crazy, shady government mad science, hidden underground magical communities, queer and trans characters, racially diverse characters, social justice overtones, and discussions about mental health, identity, and trauma.
There may be some blood, but not gore, and the only sexual content might be some innuendo in conversations. This comic will try to maintain a roughly PG13 rating. There is definitely swearing, a little bit of injury and body horror, and some explicit songs linked in some pages.
Status: Inactive, paused
See the Prologue images below. Currently planning on the new format and style of this project. The previous webcomic plugin I was using is no longer available and I’m re-considering exactly how I want to tell this story – whether that means it’s more like a novel with illustrations, Ava’s Demon style single image-per-page, or something else entirely.
Kay is a 20-something transgender man who recently moved to Cincinnati in hopes of pursuing independence from his overbearing single father. He has very little sense of purpose or intrinsic motivation and constantly looks to others to tell him what to do.
When he encounters an object that gives him the very difficult-to-control ability to transform into a dragon form, he will be forced to find his own voice and make his own choices.
A salty, older Brazilian dragon-shifter who essentially ignores his human form.
A strong-willed, motivated dragon-shifter. His parents had hoped for a girl and wanted to name him after Celine Dion.
A gifted flyer, quick learner, and socially charming, he is much more heroic and protagonist-like than our protagonist Kay.
"The Red Ruin"
A “Feral” dragon – the result of a dragon-shifter whose Pearl has shattered. This monster lives deep in the forest, watched carefully by Matheus and his clan. No one knows if a Feral dragon can be killed, or returned to normal – but we do know that once a Pearl has broken, it permanently reduces the number of dragons that can exist.
Pronounced “ay-thur”, this mysterious force began to affect the Earth in the year 1997, mostly in North America . It was not confirmed to the public until 2003, and the United States Department of Aether Control was formed to study and prevent it from influencing people.
Aether is currently believed to be either a massless particle or non-particle energy form, and has altered the course of physics significantly. Aether is understood to “leak” into our reality from a different universe. In significant volumes, Aether can temporarily alter our reality.
There is no direct way to measure the Aether density in any given area, but modern Aethometers use a complex combination of factors to get a relatively accurate estimate.
Aether accumulates rapidly in abandoned manmade places and manifests as amorphous blotches of darkness that can form shapes. These shapes are typically based on the collective memories of the place it’s in, and those of the observer(s). Usually this means a dark, shadowy, humanoid shape, called an Aether Ghost. Aether Ghosts act as if they have a will of their own. They do not. Don’t worry about it.
Aether can be absorbed into the human body, causing Aether Sickness, which typically results in hallucinations, sensitivity to light, and activation/exacerbation of mental illness, especially paranoia.
Also, it definitely doesn’t turn some people into monsters that the government is hiding from the public.
“Dragons” are humans who have gained the ability to shapeshift between their original human form and a bipedal dragon form at will. This dragon form represents a blended reality between the dimension that Aether exists in (where a version of that person exists as a full, quadrupedal dragon), and our own current reality.
Dragons passively absorb Aether and store the energy within this Pearl, and can then choose to regurgitate it as Aetherfire, a bright plasma with unique properties per individual. Dragons can also consume the Aether that has solidified into an Aether Ghost, but this usually requires physically weakening the entity and breaking it apart.
Dragons possess a unique, artificial organ called a “Pearl” that gives them control over the Aether in their bodies. The Pearl is also called a Dragonstone, Second Heart, or Soul Orb.
A dragon’s Pearl is a permanent part of their biology and can be detected even if they are in human form. It can be seen as a cold-white light from within the dragon’s solar plexus. The Pearl glows brighter the more Aether is currently stored/absorbed into it.
Attempting to remove a dragon’s Pearl will always result in it breaking. If a dragon’s Pearl breaks, it unleashes a massive overload of Aether into their body. If a dragon dies of physical injury, their Pearl will break. Dragons cannot die of old age or disease. Very few have ever seen an intact Pearl outside of a dragon’s body.
Most dragons do not remember how they went from normal humans to dragon-shifters. They do not recall receiving, manifesting, or otherwise encountering their Pearl.
Dragons believe they are mystically granted their Pearls as a sort of “Chosen Protector” status, warriors who “turn the dark into light”. We do not know where Pearls came from, but we do know that there are a limited number of them, and no new Pearls are being made.
To hide their human identities, dragons use a nickname while in dragon form. These nicknames are usually existing nouns like objects or natural phenomena.