Wombat fans rejoice! And, well, so should the rest of us. Ursula Vernon’s Eisner-award nominated, fantastic-in-all-senses-of-the-word online comic, Digger, is now free to read at www.diggercomic.com. Previously, large parts of the archive were only accessible to monthly subscribers at Graphic Smash, but as of this past week, Vernon and Graphic Smash have made available the entirety of the story so far. Here, from Vernon’s website, is the broad outline:
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.
The hook is the gorgeous black-and-white art. Even Vernon’s casual sketches are imbued with personality, and when she pulls out all the stops for a full page piece, the effect is stunning. But it’s the writing that that reels me in completely. Digger has developed into an engrossing epic with tone-perfect mythology in a beautifully drawn world that is alternately, and sometimes simultaneously, funny, creepy, and wondrous. And in a story full of characters it’s easy to care for, Digger herself may be the best of the lot—smart, tough, and sensible. As Eric Burns at Websnark wrote: “...unlike most ‘unlikely heroines,’ you honestly get the sense that when Digger makes it home, she’s going to go to bed, get up the next morning, apply for an Engineer’s job and get on with a proper sort of life, thank you anyway.”
In the meantime, Digger’s unwanted adventure makes for a remarkable comics experience—inimitable art and writing in a work with novelesque pacing that rewards extended reading… like, say, the hour or two I’ll bet you’ll spend in front of the computer if you turn to the first page. And why wouldn’t you? I did mention it’s free now, right?
Note: In addition to the Eisner nomination for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition, Digger has twice won the Web Cartoonists' Choice Award for Outstanding Black and White Art. And more than five years in, it’s still reliably updated twice a week.
Bonus! Vernon is also the artist responsible for The Biting Pear of Salamanca, which you may know from something like this.