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The Curious Case of Christian Shaw: An Interactive Comic

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw by Donna Leishman is a comic based on the supposed real life story of the possession of an eleven-year-old girl named Christian Shaw, taking place in a time where modern medicine was still in its infancy and things that couldn’t be explained were simply labeled as witchcraft. But this is not just any comic, it is an interactive, non-verbal game where by moving your cursor over certain objects, you are able to move the story along. 

The game opens with the small town of Balgarran in 1696. It’s mostly empty, with a few buildings here and there, a chapel, trees, and a ladder hanging from one of them. Once you start, you don’t get instructions on how to continue, so when I played it I just moved the cursor around and clicked on the megaphone on top of a building. Suddenly, a screen opens up showing you the inside of the building, full of broken pipes and water. By clicking the side of the structure, the poem shows you seven people, each on different floors. How were they related to Christian’s possession? I needed to keep playing to find out. Once I left the building, I noticed minor changes around the town. The ladder on the tree was shorter, and I couldn’t interact with the chapel even when I clicked on it. That’s when I noticed how one choice can affect the way the rest of the story plays out. As the narrative continues, the reader/viewer is given parts of Christian’s story, she’s seen spitting burning coal, her eyes turning blood red moving to the back of her head, she bends over backwards at an impossible angle and even flies. 

One of the last scenes is of Christian surrounded by a panel of guards, priests, and doctors. Overall, it looks like a trial. At the bottom of the screen, grass starts to appear and as you move your cursor through it, people start to jump out of it. Seven in total. The same seven people from the beginning. As you click on them, they are placed in a jail cell. Then a scene of a burning building appears, but only six of them are burning. That disturbing scene concludes the story.

This weird electronic comic made me want to do my own research on Christian Shaw and found a text titled “True Narrative of the Sufferings and Relief of a Young Girl.” In it, I found that seven people were convicted and sentenced to die under the belief that they cursed Christian, but only six were hanged and burned because one man hung himself before he could be executed. When I remembered how, in the poem, only six people were burned alive despite me imprisoning seven of them, it made me want to applaud Leishman for putting so much attention to detail in her work.

Playing the comic once more, I was able to click on the chapel where a preacher was sleeping. Looking inside the drawers of his desk, there was a hidden compartment where a voodoo doll of Christian Shaw was concealed. The thought that maybe the preacher was actually the one that cursed Christian was shocking. Or maybe she could have just been suffering from mental health problems. There is no way of truly knowing what really happened to this person, as it was documented long ago by an unknown author. What we certainly know for sure is that there was a girl called Christian Shaw, and that she was very peculiar. 

Pierucci Aponte is a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She is doing her M.A on English Linguistics and has a minor in Communications. When not studying, Pierucci either plays video games or watches movies on Netflix. Although her passion is writing, she hopes to become an educator one day.