Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Digger by Ursula Vernon - Updated

Digger vol 1 
Digger The Complete Omnibus Edition
 by Ursula Vernon

Published: Sofawolf Press
 Format: Paperback and really, really heavy paperback
Copyright: 2005 and 2013
 Pages: 132 and 823 (sort of)
Genre: Graphic Novel 
Source: own book
2013 Mythopoeic Awards WINNER
2012 Hugo Awards WINNER

Source (lots of this one around)
According to the author
"Digger" originally began, as probably most things do, as a lark. I was doodling away on [in ?] a scribbly, black and white style, and wondering vaguely what to draw, and at that moment Steve Irwin came on TV and said "Crikey! 'E bit me!" and the camera panned down to an indignant wombat who was trying to get the taste of Irwin's leg out of his mouth.

How can you not love a story that starts that way ? My son and I have been enjoying Vernon's Dragonbreath books since I stumbled on the first one shortly after it came out.  These were the first books that my son insisted on having on pre-order so that they would show up at the door the day they were released. During a waiting period between Dragonbreath books I purchased a copy of Digger to see if my son might like it. I glanced at it, decided it was a bit too much for him, and then lost it on my desk at work for a long while. Somehow time and 2013 got away from me and I never got a chance to really read it. I found it again when I was tidying up my shelves in a desperate attempt to avoid some grading - so it stuffed it in my bag and brought it home. It was still there when I was sitting at home with a stuffy head and no desire to read anything complicated.  Well - I sort of got my wish.  I found something to read, but there was way more depth to it than I was fully equip to handle while taking NyQuil. 

Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels is lost - very lost. She got turned around in the subsurface and has run afoul of a tunnel that has only one end, stranding her in a region very unlike her home. She arrives to the surface in the House of Lord Ganesh, the Compassionate, Remover of Obstacles and Clearer of the Way. Digger's primary concern is how to get home, while Ganesh is more worried about what the existence of the tunnel portents and who lies at the other side. 

So - Digger, who is very well grounded and practically immune to magic, finds herself beholden to a god, or at least the avatar of a god as embodied in a statue. She meets many other interesting beings and her straightforward and ethical nature means that she ends up taking on more trouble. I love Digger - she is a really wonderful and sympathetic protagonist and it is great fun seeing this adventure through her eyes, even when it gets darker and disturbing. 

My daughter, it turns out, really, really likes Shadowchild - probably because she is given to asking the same kinds of complex moral questions...
Yep - those are the sorts of questions that my six-year-old daughter asks when she is not asking why we need to wear clothing or wants me to explain cats. 

I realized that I need to point out Digger is definitely for adults. It deals with some very deep issues and would potentially quite disturbing for a child.  I just read some of the bits with Shadowchild out for my daughter since for some reason she is really attracted to the character (she likes the art).  So she has only been introduced to the a small part of the overall story - which I did edit while reading - so she knows what happens with Shadowchild's story arc and that is pretty much all.  I am also going to wait until my son is older before offering it to him to read. 

Digger's story arc unfolds well and there are both moments of poignancy and moments of levity. It it hard to describe without giving something away.  If you are interested you can see Digger online starting here http://diggercomic.com/blog/2007/02/01/wombat1-gnorf/

I also want more story - the ending makes sense, but I felt rather disgruntled and want to know more.

Yes, I know the story isn't perfect, but I really enjoyed it and for me this is a five claws book - I can see wanting to re-read it soon.

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