16 March 2008

Things You Might Enjoy, If You Enjoy This Sort Of Thing--Episode Five

Otter Soldiers
Elina Hopeasaari

Following on my review of last week, this is another webcomic for your perusal. Like Grayling, it's not the typical newspaper-strip format--this, again, is closer to full pages of trade paperbacks getting put up online.

It's called Otter Soldiers. It's Finnish.

Before you ask, yes. It's available in English. The author actually translates it herself; the website has two sections, one in Finnish and one in English. I've linked to the English one, of course. Story premise is as follows (not a quote):

We are in Finland. Santa Claus is dead. His elves have gone crazy and are trying to improve the world by causing "bad" children to disappear. An eleven-year-old girl's friend disappears, and she hooks up with an angry, depressed woman and some fairies to save the world.

No, I'm not making that up.

It's a fairly weird comic in the first place, as you can see, made even weirder by the fact that the author's English translation occasionally uses some really bizarre grammar. I want to learn Finnish now, just to see where she's getting these grammatical constructions from. The two main characters--the girl and the grouchy woman--are named Outi Janis and Reiska Lilavati. Outi at least is cool; Reiska's self-loathing worries me.

Despite the weirdness, it's a fascinating story. It draws heavily on Finnish folklore--in fact, the author provides a page explaining the some of the things in the comic for people who are not of Finnish descent. Finnish folklore is why the elves in this comic are freaky little murderbeasts instead of rosy-cheeked helpers or ethereal othertypes.

The art is interesting. Hopeasaari is actually a really good artist, but I will warn you that she does not draw pretty. The story of Otter Soldiers is creepy and weird, and the art for it is just as creepy and weird. But sometimes it is also beautiful.

The weird English takes some getting used to, and the story might scare you. If anything, you'll never look at raisins in the same way again. Despite the freakiness, though, there's a lot of humor, so while it certainly isn't continuously funny, there are things to laugh at. Like Grayling, this is a comic that should be read from the beginning, and it updates irregularly. However, it's still more regular than Grayling--I've found that there will normally be at least one new page a week, often more. So it might be a little bizarre, but it's totally worth reading, and the story isn't too hard to follow, especially given the pleasant frequentness of updates.

Give it a shot. If you get freaked out, it's probably my fault. But if you like it, that's my fault too.

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