May 7th, 2009


Arguably, this could have involved any species of bird–maybe not penguins or moas, probably not kiwis, but any of the reasonably symbolic birds–but I’m a sucker for kingfishers. There’s quite a large Haida kingfisher tattooed across my right upper arm, which was arguably one of the most painful four hours of my life, and totally worth it.

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Discussion (29)¬

  1. Rhan says:

    Much better than a peacock. :)

  2. Iona says:

    Was the Shadowchild possibly born from a kingfisher?

  3. Eliza says:

    Also, much better than Helix’s version. I’m loving it already.

  4. Lisa says:

    I really want the child of the Kingfisher who was dead to be the dead bird the shadow child was born from. Really, really badly.

    Just sayin’

  5. Soor says:

    Peacocks are bloody annoying.

    As soon as the bragging-im-a-pretty-bird season rolls around what you want to do is strangle the damn stupid thing. Quite possibly the most annoying sound I’ve ever heard, and in true peanut-brain bird style they go on like broken records – off-tune like one too.

    … can you tell I’ve had peacocks? >:D

  6. Richard says:

    The kingfisher manages to evoke a hyena somehow – a bit Ed-like.
    You seem to have a pretty sound knowledge of Australasian fauna, Ursula – have you lived down-under? (I vote for a Haasts Eagle!)

  7. Having spotted a kingfisher in action at the wee pond down the hill from South Point, I can understand completely their allure!

  8. Mani says:

    Aw. And here I was, getting ready to think that the trapped god was…well, I still have my pet theories about where this is going (hint: look at the masks of the Cold Servants).

    And I’m happy the story surprised me so far, anyway, so – that’s awesome. Loving this, Ursula.

  9. Werrf says:

    So…an insane, grieving, male God, whose child had died. Driven mad by his grief.

    Sounds like a certain myth we know so well.

  10. Austin says:

    And flipping back to the relevant archive pages, doesn’t that Ginormous Deific Hand have a certain familiar structure?

  11. diTaykan says:

    So… is/was the Kingfisher’s son the Good Man?

  12. Ix says:

    Doesn’t it just, Werrf? My question is how a certain hyena is going to react when she starts connecting the dots…

  13. Kelci says:

    Kingfishers rock. I’m glad you chose it as the god’s bird of choice.

  14. Madison says:

    Unless the kingfisher miraculously becomes white instead of “the color of ashes”, it is not the bird Shadowchild was born from…

  15. Jessica says:

    The minute the comic loaded, my eyes went straight to the word “kingfisher”, and my mind went, “oh, Ursula” and smiled a little. :-) Yes, my mind smiled, goshdarnit.

  16. Maggie says:

    How a sketchy b&w scribbly bird can be that SAD and that realistic boggles me.

  17. Kisuneko says:

    Now this is interesting, finally we get to start pulling ll the strings together :O

  18. As kingfisher’s draw fire, dragonflies draw flame;

    Not my favorite Hopkins poem, but one of my favorite poets :)
    My favorite sings more to our little veiled girl…


  19. Lica says:

    Mmm, well diTaykan, my first thought was the same as yours “Oh, the child may be the Good Man!”(mostly because I really want to hear more about the black mother and all that…), but remember he-is and she-is-fiercer lost a child too?… or the kingfisher may be someone else entirely! anyway, I can’t wait for Tuesday.

  20. Werrf says:

    I don’t think the timeline quite matches up for the Kingfisher to be related to the Good Man – this story takes place “Long ago, a thousand years and more”, while according to Murai, the Good Man was born “a thousand years ago”, meaning that the Good Man’s story should be placed shortly AFTER these events. Of course, “a thousand years ago” in the story of the Good Man could be just poetic imprecision, but still. Also, the Kingfisher is male, and the only person in the Good Man story who lost a child was female.

    I’m ready to hazard a guess, though.

    The Kingfisher was He-Is, seeking to die after his long exile to escape the influence of Sweetgrass Voice. He came to the monks to ask to be bound, and they obeyed. He was bound in the dark, to be forgotten, lost, and to let himself die. But his followers, the hyenas who went with him, disobeyed and tried to keep him alive. That’s where the Famine came in. Some part of the Famine Creature was still alive, and turned the hyenas into Cold Servants, gave them a way to keep He-Is alive. Remember the boreholes tapped into He-Is’s body to let the blood drain? I suspect the Famine is using that blood to try to come back to life. That’s why Digger’s tunnel came out in the temple – right next to where the Famine died, and where it’s influence is still strongest.

    There we go. Wild Mass Guessing at its finest :)

  21. Lica says:

    Also, I was reading back some of the old strips, and read #221, when the skins appear. And it says something about the heart of dead men becoming kingfisher. Could the kingfisher be the heart of He-is, maybe?

  22. KNO3 says:

    Good one Lica.

  23. Siege says:

    Chekov’s Gun… we seem to have a lot of those hanging around.

    I suspect Murai’s story exists to illustrate why she’s present: she knows madness and gods from the inside. Grim Eyes is there as a primary witness, who has enough authority to bring the story to her people and not be exiled for it. Digger? Fixing Helix’s errors. And the Shadowchild is obviously, well, the shadow of something very big, but hidden.

    Making broken things whole does require certain resources; fortunately, minds can be healed at least as well as broken pots can be glued. You just have to have enough pieces and maybe a way to plug any holes left behind.

  24. Otookee says:

    Thank you, Siege. I had been wondering what Grim Eyes’ role was. I’m starting to wonder if Shadowchild is the “child” of Sweetgrass Voice … that the child of SV should play a part in redeeming the actions of its parent that caused the loss of anothers child seems mythically fitting… we’ll see.

  25. JoeNotCharles says:

    I’m going back and reading from the beginning now that all the clues are there. Just want to mention that at his first appearance, the statue of Ganesh says it’s been there for 700 years – so the binding of the god definitely predates it. Just in case there was any confusion on that point.

  26. JoeNotCharles says:

    Another date for the timeline – the Temple of Ganesh was built 1100 years ago, although the (current?) statue’s only been there for 700. Not clear if that’s before or after the “thousand years and more” mentioned here.

  27. Snowgods says:

    Penguins, Moas and Kiwis all Live in New Zealand (or at least used to) – moas and kiwi’s exclusively, Wombats are Australian. I really hope that we’re no joined up to them in that world could hardly live with myself :P

  28. Rundikin says:

    Ashes can be white, as in the white bird of Shadowchild’s birth could have been ash white.

  29. JET73L says:

    I heard “the color of ashes” as pale grey. I don’t even know what ashes would be black (ashes covered in soot?). But the bird looks pretty pale, not black, which supports either white or pale grey for the ashes color.