London in the 1600s had it rough. The deadly bubonic plague spread quickly and indiscriminately, taking out whole families in a short period of time. Plague doctors were often sent out to help, regardless of income or status. Unfortunately many of them were unskilled and even some were snake oil salesmen, garnering a mixed reputation about their efficacy in fighting the epidemic. In Plague Muffins, this fictional take on the plague doctor explores that very thing. Which of them are actually helping and how much political corruption is getting in the way of curing the masses?
Created by Erin Kirkland, the historical drama web series centers on Scilis, a town baker who accidentally creates a cure against the plague while experimenting with a muffin recipe. The Plague Doctor Society finds out and hires him so he can distribute the cure and curb the spread of the illness. A change of leadership, however, is interfering with progress. Enter Head Doctor Malcolm. He sends Apprentice to Scilis as part of a maneuver to get rid of the baker-turned-plague doctor. Apprentice soon sees that Scilis is an asset, not a detriment, and the pair attempt to rid Malcolm of his position and stop his corruption.
The tale uses both historical and fictional elements to flesh out how some doctors really were helpful while others were essentially useless or con men. Some also ignored the part about assisting anyone in need, and many started charging helpless sick families at the worst possible time.
Visually, the art works well with the vibe and tone of the series. The image of the plague doctor is disturbing in and of itself, and their masked presence in the panels add to the mysterious, ominous tone of the narrative.
Plague Muffins updates on Thursdays on Webtoons. Begin reading the web comic here.