by Ursula Vernon
Link | Finished (12 chapters)Digger

I’ll start with the final sentiment – Digger is one of the best stories I know, in any medium. It’s exciting, touching, funny, exhilarating, and truly epic. And it’s about a wombat.

Digger, the wombat in question (full name: Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels), finds herself in an unknown place, with no knowledge of how to get home, and a statue of a god talking to her. Her immediate concern is getting back home, but she soon realizes her arrival initiated – or was caused by – something much bigger and deliberate than pure chance. And it’s at this point – apart from the whole wombat thing – that the story diverges from the beaten track for this kind of setting.

There are a lot of stories – some of them very good – where the newly come stranger just wants to get home, and a series of wacky hijinks causes them to stay and help. In Digger’s case, her motivation comes from what is also the comic’s strongest point – the characters she meets.

These characters are, without a single exception, fascinating and unique. I wouldn’t dream of listing them all and spoiling the fun, but a partial list consists of an oracular snail; an entire matriarchal tribe of hyena warriors; and a being I love so much I have it tattooed on me – an innocent, clueless, adorable but powerful Shadow Child.
Plus, of course, there is Digger herself, which is practical above all else – with the dry wit to go along with that – but also truly a good person, who tries to do the best she can even when she doesn’t know what exactly that is.

Even the characters who aren’t extremely likable are completely relatable, and through them the world and the story are created, shown and filled with emotion and content. And what a world it is! Ursula Vernon created a rich world, where every culture has its own customs and myths, its own struggles and jokes. These elements play almost as big a part in the tale as the characters, and add to the feeling of depth and epicness throughout the story.

All this is rendered in striking black & white, also by Ursula. The character design conveys simply and beautifully the personality and quirks of each different creature, and the surroundings are always in that delicate balance between fantastical and coherent, charming and (when need be) threatening.

The story of Digger has already ended – after about 850 pages – and has been nominated for an Eisner Award and won a Hugo Award. It’s a tale like no other with characters you’ll keep thinking about weeks after reading. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll come back to it every few months or so, and each time it will surprise you all over again.

Go read it. Digger 2

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