Edith: The Coming of Age WebToon for your mid-20s

Ever read something that resonated with you so much that you wish you could erase the whole thing from your mind so you can experience it for the first time again?

That’s how I feel about the webcomic Edith by SwanGarden.

Maybe I just found it at the right time of my life to relate to it, but something about the art, the story, and the characters– I cannot describe the feeling without falling into cliches. The art was stunning, with a neutral-pastel palate: evoking a sense of nostalgia and softness. The writing was incredible. Every element was clearly planned with care, from the cigarette motif serving as the perfect symbol for the primary relationship, to the realistic portrayal and development of the main characters.

Everything about it created the perfect coming of age story for a woman in her mid-20s.

I found this WebToon shortly after I graduated from college in 2019. I was 25, a late graduate by most standards. I was just starting out in my career and still recovering from a breakup with someone I loved, but knew could never be happy or healthy with. I was young, but considered an adult. I still had a lot of learning and growing to do in terms of my emotions, my relationships, and my career, but I was ready to start that journey. I was a overwhelmed, but hopeful. A little lost and afraid, but ready to find my way. In short, I was Edith.

This WebToon wasn’t like the others I was reading.

I love web comics and read a truly embarrassing amount of them. I am intimately familiar with the common plots, themes, and tropes of this form of media. I have nothing against a typical work-place romance, or other-world fantasy. I read them by the dozen. But Edith’s unique story, design, and plot is what struck me. Yes, Edith is a modern romance, but it doesn’t take place in an office or high school. Edith isn’t the “average girl that every male character falls in love with”. She’s not the “unrealistically clumsy but otherwise perfect” main character, and there’s no “unreasonably petty and evil female antagonist” to pit her against. Edith didn’t rely on genre tropes to tell a story.

What makes Edith unique is that is is highly realistic.

Edith, the main character, is a novelist in her mid-20s living in the big city. Despite having already published a few books already, her career is in a slump when her novels aren’t selling well. She is financially stressed, but prone to enjoying the nicer things in life- like nice clothes and an apartment she can’t really afford. Things are set in motion when she runs into her high-school crush, Jack, the same week she meets a handsome stranger at a club. Despite it’s categorization of romance, Edith is also about friendship, self-esteem, communication, boundaries, and learning to live. It is a coming of age story for women in their 20’s wrapped in the pretty package of a love story.

That’s why I needed it so much in 2019, and still love it now.

I am loud, opinionated, terrified of commitment and dependency, and anxious. When asked, most people would describe me as “responsible”, “practical”, “direct”, and “tenacious”. None of those characteristics apply to the slightly shy, co-dependent, spend-thrift, Edith. Our core personalities and life experiences are very different, but I still see myself in her. In fact, I think most women in their 20s will see part of themselves in Edith. Edith’s character is as unique as any other fictional character, but her emotions are universal. Her struggles with self-esteem, money, friendships, love, and her effort to overcome, development, and grow are all too relatable. Seeing Edith go though similar experiences, and watching her learn and grow from them, was cathartic. It felt like getting real-life advice and encouragement from a friend.

The comic is complete now.

The final episode of Edith was published recently, and I have to admit that I was both excited and heart broken by the finale. It was everything I could have wished for, but I mourned the loss of weekly episodes. “What am I supposed to read to aid my coming of age journey now?” I thought to myself, despite being 28 and in a steady career. I decided that the only thing I can do, is re-read it. And isn’t the desire to read the same story again the mark of truly good writing?

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