A Most Peculiar Epic

I’ve mentioned webcomics before, which run the gamut from high art to crap. The other day I rediscovered one of the best. Not just one of the best webcomics, but one of the best stories I’ve ever read.

And it starts with a wombat.

Created by the astonishingly talented Ursula Vernon, Digger tells the story of a lost wombat, Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels, and the strange people she meets and adventures they have. It’s set in a fascinating world with several rich cultures, and contains such interesting things as Pratchett-style footnotes, vampire squash, disturbingly cute trolls, and more! 

It also has one of my favorite conversations ever:

… on some kind of mystic faultline …

What kind of fault-line?

Strike-slip, if I’m interpreting all this mumbo-jumbo correctly. Possibly oblique.

But mostly I love it for the sheer joy of all the details. From a “Snails rule!” gag in the background to the hyena culture with a mythology that fits perfectly with the behavior of real hyenas, it’s filled with fascinating tidbits that make the whole thing better, most of them pulled from real life. The characters are interesting and have distinct voices, you can almost hear them speak their lines.

And then there’s the commentary.

The comment section attached to each page is a tricky thing, it’s filled with spoilers for the plot, so the first-time reader may want to avoid it. But at the same time it’s almost as good as the comic itself, Ursula Vernon attracts some brilliant readers who will teach you all sorts of fascinating things. People in the comments figured out that the mystic fault mentioned in the quote above must be oblique, not strike-slip, and further that this really counted as a mistake on the author’s part since the character speaking would have known that.

At one point an archaeologist commented with a translation of a medieval surgeon’s advice on how to remove an arrow and treat the wound. Which is both cool and really puzzles me because it seems like it would be quicker and easier to use the arrow shaft to guide the barbed arrowhead out, rather than mess around with popping the shaft off and trying to work the arrowhead out with filed down pliers. Honey as an antiseptic sounds like a smart move, though.

Anyway, my point is that just about every part of Digger is awesome in multiple ways on multiple levels. It will make you laugh and cry and probably learn something, and at the end you’ll be wishing for more. It’s won at least two awards and deserves to win more. If you want to read it, and I recommend you do, here’s the main page.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on October 23, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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