My Friend Death by Laura Pilkington

Is there life after death? Is reincarnation real? Does Heaven exist? Does Hell exist? Frankly, Death doesn’t know, and he really doesn’t care enough to find out. He knows he lives in some alternate plane of existence where there are dead people going about their business, but he doesn’t feel like it sucks enough to be Hell and he isn’t really interested in finding out where, exactly, it is. Why? It’s not his job to know any of that stuff.

His job is to collect the souls of the dead so they don’t end up hanging around and moping endlessly about their problems.

No, Death doesn’t kill anyone - that’s like blaming the school janitor for the sick that he’s having to clean, even though you very clearly saw some bratty little reception kid cough it up.

Besides, people end up dying on their own easily enough. He’s just here to chaperone your recently departed Grandma’s soul to wherever the place end up going is. Anyways - if you can actually see him, you’re probably a snotty-nosed child of two to eight years of age, and most likely wouldn’t be asking these deep, philosophical questions.

A snotty-nosed child such as Morgan - a curious, energetic six year old girl who loves to know things, cause a ruckus wherever she goes, and who really wants you to know that the ham goes on the bottom of the sandwich and the cheese goes on the top. No exceptions.

Chris, a kid in the same class as Morgan, comes in to school one day looking like an absolute wreck. Kids are super empathetic towards everyone and everything, so the entire class swarms him and everyone asks him what’s wrong until he gives in. Poor Chris reveals that his beloved hamster popped its clogs the night before and he is having a funeral for him this evening, so he‘s just really upset and confused.

Morgan, having very little knowledge of the nuances of polite social interactions, asks if she could come to the funeral. Her Mum’s attended funerals before but she’s never been allowed to come, even though all you do is be sad and listen to people talk, so it’s just like learning maths at school but somebody’s dead!

This gets a few more of their classmates excited, and Chris agrees that it’d be nice if they all came. All in all, there would be six guests going to Chris’s house for the funeral just after school.

The funeral isn’t very interesting. Chris says a few words and cried as his cousin puts the shoebox containing the hamster’s corpse into a small hole in the ground, and then everyone goes inside for lemonades, because it‘s the next best thing to having a not-dead hamster. Or something.

Morgan is... ‘dangerously inquisitive’, as her mum puts it. She’ll just come out of nowhere and ask random strangers completely unrelated or inappropriate questions, or she’ll spot something she finds interesting and wander off to investigate without telling anyone.

So, when she spies a tall, shadowy figure with a big, dangerous-looking pointy thing in the back garden, off to investigate she goes.

Death doesn’t usually take time out of his day to reap the souls of animals. They hardly ever cause trouble and, if they’re a pet, they can wait 'til their owner dies as well so said owner’s soul has some friendly companionship. This time he just so happened to be in the neighbourhood, cleaning out the local hospital and a couple of houses when he realised there was a couple of dead animals nearby and, hey, why not?

Makes a nice change of pace.

Morgan excuses herself, saying she wants to ‘think and be sad on her own’ for a bit (Morgan is a decent liar for being six, but it would have been a bit less awkward if she’d remembered the word ‘mourn’) and heads out the back door. The cloaked stranger lifts the sharp weapon-y thing up, readies it and swings it down with enough force that, if it hit the ground, it would probably register on the Richter scale.

Before Morgan can even begin to theorise why this person is apparently trying to cut the ground up in such an ineffective way (‘Why not use a shovel? Do they just not like gardens and that’s why they’re slicing the ground?’), the weapon goes through the ground. As in directly through. Not a single mark left on the soil. The blade of the big weapon-but-not-a-weapon-coz-it-didn’t-cut-anything is lifted out the ground and, sitting on it, is a hamster.

A silvery, shimmery, semi-transparent hamster.

Morgan isn’t scared - why would anyone be scared? That was awesome! How did they do it? Was that a ghost hamster? Do ghosts exist? Does that mean those TV shows where they go ghost hunting are real? I saw a dead hedgehog on the road outside my school once - is my school haunted by ghost hedgehogs? CAN I KEEP THEM?!

About half an hour later Morgan rejoins her friends inside. Or, at least, she would’ve if they hadn’t all gone home. Chris was in the living room, telling his parents what to write on the rock that they’re using as a headstone. Morgan pokes her head through the doorway and, as politely, non-suspiciously and discreetly as possible, tells Chris’s parents that she had a nice time feeling sad for an hour and she hopes Chris feels better soon.

It would have been a lot more sincere if Chris and his parents didn’t hear Morgan having a seemingly one-sided conversation about large, sharp instruments of destruction and their names on her way out.


Age: If you can calculate exactly how old the universe is, tell Death and he’ll congratulate you or something. No prizes for you.

Height: Death can change his height, and he often does based on how tall is the tallest person in the room. Generally about 6”4 but if there’s someone in the vicinity who is also just about that tall he’ll add a bit of height. Death puts effort into being the most threatening presence in the room and he’d be delighted if you’d notice.

Powers: Killing incredibly weak or practically dead things just by being near them (eg- grass, flies, fish-tank sized fish, very ill animals no larger than a medium-sized dog), killing anything if he focuses enough (doesn’t really use on anything except plants or pests), manipulating shadows (sinking into them, teleporting through them, shaping them, making them tangible), sensing the likelihood of someone living past the next ten minutes (as long as said person is within a ten mile radius of Death. Applies to health and injuries only - (not circumstances), sensing nearby souls, telepathic communication, swinging a scythe like it’s nobody’s business.


Age: Six years old

Height: Approximately 3”5. It’s been a couple of weeks since she and her mum checked, and the pencil marks on the height chart are nearly indistinguishable from the scuff marks from numerous “Scythe forged from the darkness VS Cheap knockoff lightsaber we bought at a pantomime show a couple of years ago” fights.

Powers: Turning one simple question into several complicated and nearly unanswerable questions, coming up with ideas and solutions (just don’t expect them to be realistic), making her mum look like a weirdo by cluttering her Google search history with all kinds of random questions and phrases, getting people’s hair to go grey prematurely.

<< Back to the Hell of a Comic Art Challenge Gallery

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival competition for 2019 is a tribute to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. Students are challenged to create their own new character who despite emerging from the hellish heat and fury of the underworld is, like Hellboy, a cool force for good.

Hell of a Comic Art Challenge is supported by the University of Cumbria

Related event: From the Depths: The Hellboy Comics of Duncan Fegredo