There are so many good web comics out there to sample and digest, it’s difficult to pick favorites. While there’s plenty of good work being done in more conventional genres (superheroes, gaming, swords and sorcery), the comics that tend to catch my eye combine interesting visuals with clever and/or obscure stories that might not immediately grab the attention of the casual reader.
Minna Sundberg is a Swedish-born comic creator currently working in Finland, and she has two such comics, A Redtail’s Dream and Stay Silent, Stay Safe. Both draw from the well of mythic lore from Scandinavia (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden Finland), but use them in interestingly different ways. In both comics, the Minna’s painterly art has a delightful storybook quality and integrates many Scandinavian motifs and designs.
A Redtail’s Dream is a more conventional fantasy tale based on Finnish myth about a boy and his shape-shifting dog undertaking a journey into the Realm of Dreams to save his village. There is a plethora of talking animals and magic in the tale; of course, the chatty critters steal the show.
ARTD is complete at 500+ pages, so it’s a small epic and can be finished in one long sitting.
Stand Still, Stay Silent is a contemporary story that puts an interesting twist on the over-popular zombie apocalypse story: a sickness has wiped out most of humanity, and only Iceland and few isolated Scandinavian outposts remain. A group of the survivors is tasked with journeying back out into the Silent Lands to find out what lurks there. The narrative weaves in elements of Icelandic lore and magic with well-defined characters and atmospheric settings, giving the comic a dark magical feel without wallowing in horror elements the way other post-apocalyptic comics might.
This is Minna’s currently ongoing comic, and it appears that cats have achieved some kind of semi-devine status in her world. So, you know the story can’t end well…
If I have one complaint about SSSS, it’s that the characters, who are all young Scandinavians, are often difficult to tell apart. This is partly due to the fact that they dress similarly. But it’s also a reflection of the reality that, hey: Scandinavians all look a lot alike.
I look forward to following Minna’s stories and artwork as she finishes SSSS and proceeds onward. Her stories walk the line between the exotic and familiar, and she balances good mixes of characters (with several strong female characters in SSSS particularly) with the mystical and mysterious, and leaves plenty of narrative hooks to keep you reading.