The Sixsmiths by J Marc Schmidt and Jason Franks – review

The SixsmithsThe Sixsmiths is a graphic novel (born of a webcomic) written by Jason Franks and illustrated by J Marc Schmidt. It’s the story of an everyday surburban family, the titular Sixsmiths, who live in Albert Hills, Victoria. A pleasant couple with two kids (Cain and Lilith) and a dog (Furfur), they’re about as normal as a family gets. Which is the key point of this story, as they’re committed Satanists.

The story is told is several short chapters, starting with Ralf Sixsmith losing his job due to global financial pressures. He’s glum and the family talk about how they’ll need to seriously tighten their belts. But not to worry, says Annie: “The Dark Lord will provide.”

“We’ll have to make sacrifices, obviously,” says Ralf.

“I think a lamb and a goat for the equinox,” Annie replies.

There you have the measure of this story. It’s a light comedy drama, until you realise it’s telling the story of religious Satanists as casually as it would tell the story of Catholics. And that’s the point. Essentially, The Sixsmiths is exploring life for people of any faith and the problems they can face. The family are often either villified or admired for the strength of their religion. They all, even the kids, have dozens of Satanic tattoos, causing a stir in school change rooms. We learn of a third, oldest child, who is estranged from her family as she no longer shares their faith.

Ralf struggles to find employment while the kids struggle with life in the public school system now the family can no longer afford to send them to private school.

The artwork is spare and simple, but consistent and effective. Once you get used to the style of art and storytelling, the two fit together very well. There are poignant moments and a good dose of comedy. It’s all very entertaining stuff. There’s nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering here, and I can’t help wondering how it might have been if the story was told from a much darker angle. But that’s the point really – it’s normal suburbia with Satanists who sacrifice “babies” made of cake at their rituals and try to live true to their faith against the odds. I enjoyed it.

My only real complaint is that the book ended right on a midway point with no indication that there was going to be any more. No Volume 1 on the cover or To Be Continued at the end. It just stops, on a fairly serious and depressing note. Maybe the intention was to indicate a “struggles go on” idea that doesn’t need to be told, but it took me by surprise and disappointed me. I’d have liked some closure, even if there was more story to be told. Everything set up through the story gets addressed or resolved up to a point, then it all just stops. Which was a bit weird.

On checking via the website, I noticed this mention:

Well, it’s official. Franks has started writing the script for Vol.02.

At this point that’s all the information we have, but Franks is extremely excited to have this opportunity to tell the rest of the story.

I also discovered from the website that:

The Sixsmiths webcomic is published weekly at, to be followed by a graphic novel later in the year [presumably this book I’m reviewing]. The webcomic features short stories about the situations and characters portrayed in book, which is constituted of longer story arcs. Some of the webstrips will appear in the graphic novel.

Well, that’s good then. Some indication of all that in the book would have been good.

The Sixsmiths is published by SLG Publishing (