The last time I tried to describe Digger to a friend of mine, I ended up doing it something like this:
“Oh, it’s a webcomic — well, graphic novel, you can buy it in hardcopy, but you can read it online, whatever — about a wombat who makes a wrong turn while digging and ends up incredibly lost, which normally wouldn’t happen to her but there was this whole thing with hallucinogenic gas and magic, it’s complicated. Except the problem is that now she’s so far away from home that nobody she meets even really knows what wombats are, and then there’s this talking statue of Ganesh and these matriarchal coyotes and a shadow-creature, and they’re sort of trying to help her get home but there’s also this weird magic business going on with a dead god and so she ends up having to deal with that, which kind of sucks for her because basically everybody involved in that nonsense is crazy and she’s really down-to-earth. Um. Pun not intended? And then there’s a teenage priestess who’s a little bit crazy, like actually crazy and not just weird-crazy, and is having some major god problems. And there are vampiric squash. Look, it’s really good, okay?”
Which, I will admit, was not be the most coherent summary. So, now that I’m actually thinking about it, let me try again.
Digger is a now-complete webcomic/graphic novel written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon. (You can order the hard copy online.) The description on Amazon puts it this way:
“Digger is a story about a wombat. More specifically, it is a story about a particularly no-nonsense wombat who finds herself stuck on the wrong end of a one-way tunnel in a strange land where nonsense seems to be the specialty. Now with the help of a talking statue of a god, an outcast hyena, a shadow-being of indeterminate origin, and an oracular slug she seeks to find out where she is and how to go about getting back to her Warren.”
Which is, you know, sort of what I was attempting to get at earlier, with much less success.
Digger is one of my absolute favorite webcomics for a variety of reasons: first, Vernon’s sheer imagination is both incredible in scope and hilarious, creating both the compelling series of mysteries at the heart of the plot, and also wonderful details like those oracular slugs and, as I mentioned, vampiric squash, that help tie the story together.
Second, her characters are wonderful: Digger, the titular main character, is snarky, pragmatic, handy with a pickaxe, and in way over her head. (Wombats, as a rule, don’t get involved with magic. It ruins their tunnels.)
The rest of the cast is great as well, including an exiled hyena with no name (it was eaten), and Shadowchild, who was born from a dead bird and is experiencing a certain amount of existential curiosity — that is, it’s curious about what existence (and its existence, in particular) actually is.
There are a lot more things that I love about it, but I’m running out of room, and so I’m just going to close by saying that Vernon’s artwork is gorgeous and her sense of humor makes Digger a delight to read, if you like fantasy, wombats, or things that are just plain awesome. In case you didn’t catch the link earlier, you can read the whole thing at www.diggercomic.com.