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Spotlight on Fantasy Webcomics: The Dirt on Ursula Vernon’s Hugo Award Winner, Digger

Spotlight on Fantasy Webcomics: The Dirt on Ursula Vernon’s Hugo Award Winner, Digger

Digger Volume 1 Ursula Vernon
Cover of Digger Volume 1 by Ursula Vernon from Sofa Wolf Press

I read a lot of webcomics. Back when I was writing Cowboys and Aliens II for Platinum, I started reading a bunch of the comics that were up on the now-defunct Drunk Duck and I got hooked.

What happens when you start reading webcomics is that you often follow links to other webcomics, until your bookmarks bar is full of comics you’re following on a regular basis and your inbox is full of recommendations from friends of the comics you should be following. That e-mail from a friend is how I discovered Digger by Ursula Vernon, which was the Hugo Award Winner for best graphic story and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winner, both in 2012.

It starts with an anthropomorphic wombat named Digger who, by page 6, has met a statue avatar of the god of wisdom Ganesh. Wombats being a race of logically minded architects and engineers, they don’t care much for gods and magic — but Digger is thrust into the middle of a story that has both. Magic has deliberately interfered with her tunnel, something no wombat takes kindly, and her sense of direction is askew, meaning she can’t get home until Ganesh helps her figure out just where home is from where she’s ended up.

While researching a trip home might seem like a harmless endeavor, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and soon Digger is up to her ears in strange characters: a young healer known only as the Hag, a shadow child who might or might not be a demon, an unnamed hyena exile who Digger calls Ed, a female warrior monk who is probably insane, and a whole tribe of hyena people who might want to eat her.

This might sound like a lot of silliness in one webcomic, and Digger has its share of humorous moments. But what happens between the words, the art, and the story is the stuff of magic — quite possibly the kind that Digger herself would approve of.

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